Another State of Mind [DVD] [1984]

One of the few decent cinematic documents of the early '80s hardcore punk scene (and a major educational item on such matters, given its frequent appearance on the much-missed cable series Night Flight), Another State of Mind has been given an enhanced presentation for its release on DVD. Another State of Mind has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and thankfully has been mastered from the original video elements; the disc looks cleaner and sharper than it did in the film's previous home-video incarnations, though it is missing the semi-helpful burned-in subtitles that appeared during some of the songs. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo and sounds fine, though there's no getting past the movie's sometimes dodgy location recording; the interviews are performances are in English, with optional subtitles in English and Japanese. Finally, the disc includes three, count 'em, three audio commentaries -- one from Social Distortion leader Mike Ness, another from Shawn Stern and his brothers Mark and Adam from Youth Brigade, and finally directors Adam Small and Peter Stuart. One senses that all these years later there's little love lost between Ness and the Stern Brothers, and these two commentaries each feature a few jabs at the tour's other participants, while both agree that the film's editing fractured the tour's timeline and they both wonder aloud about why certain characters and events made the cut. Small and Stuart, meanwhile, justify their editorial choices and discuss the tour in a manner that suggests they didn't know a tremendous amount about punk rock going into the project and still don't. At any rate, the three commentaries each offer an interesting 20-years-on perspective on both the film and the tour it documented, and anyone who cares about the music and the period captured in Another State of Mind will want to give them a listen as well as give the disc a close look.
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Special Features

  • Commentary by Mike Ness Shawn; Mark, and Adam Stern; Adam Small; and Peter Stuart
  • Subtitles: Japanese and English

Synopsis

Another State of Mind
Youth Brigade was a California punk band whose leader, Shawn Stern, was also founder of Better Youth Organization, which promoted low-cost, non-profit punk rock shows on the West Coast and tried to encourage positive community activism within the punk rock scene. In hopes of spreading the word about both Youth Brigade and BYO, Stern organized an ambitious United States tour in the summer of 1982, booking 30 dates in 35 days with co-headliners Social Distortion. Stern bought an old school bus, the bands fixed it up, and they set out to conquer America on a low budget. As you might expect, things didn't go quite as planned; the bands got stiffed on payment for several shows (at one gig, their fee came in the form of rolls of pennies), the bus often broke down, the punishing schedule and low pay was more than most of the musicians could deal with, and the tour broke down at about the halfway point, with most of the participants hopping a Greyhound back to California following the bus' final meltdown in Washington, D.C. A camera crew tagged along for the tour, and Another State of Mind captures this noble folly on videotape. Along the way, Youth Brigade and Social Distortion play several numbers (complete with subtitles if you can't understand the vocals), the bands visit a punk rock house in Calgary (complete with its own skateboard ramp), they meet up with D.C. punk legends Minor Threat (who also perform onscreen), and end up spending the night at a Christian youth hostel for wayward punks. Youth Bridage broke up not long after Another State of Mind was completed, but they reformed in the 1990s and released several new albums, while Social Distortion eventually signed to a major label and became one of the biggest bands on the American punk scene; Minor Threat frontman Ian McKaye would also go on to bigger things as guitarist and singer with Fugazi. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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