As the essential founder of the Plasmatics, from then absolute beginning Rod Swenson was like the silent member of the Plasmatics, always just off to the side. Over the years he directed all of their conceptual art videos and filmed their shows. Over time things were shuffled and loads of footage was lost in the grand mix. Literally decades later, while Rod was shifting some Plasmatics/Wendy O. Williams materials in storage the lot of the footage was found. At first, the integrity of the tapes were in question because of natural age degradation, though they proved to be salvageable and we’re successfully restored. Fast forward to the spring of 2017, along with MVD, Rod has compiled and unleashed a copious collection of surprisingly amazing footage of a few different performances during the band’s early years.
Like the band itself, the trajectory of the material is linear and straightforward. All told, there are 16 tracks total, taken from seven different appearances between 1978 and 1981. All of the songs come from Plasmatics’ early releases; ‘Meet the Plasmatics’, ‘New Hope for the Wretched’, ‘Beyond the Valley of 1984’, ‘Metal Priestess’.
Because of the multi angle perspectives and great relative sound quality, the footage from ‘Plasmatics LIVE!’ appears to be shot and edited professionally. The first two tracks–“Want You (Baby)” and “Tight Black Pants”–are taken from two different performances at CBGB; one in June 1978 and one July 1979, respectively. As the DVD plays through, you have some pretty far out performances of songs like “Sometimes I Feel It,” “Squirm,” “Butcher Baby,” “Living Dead,” “Fast Food Service,” “Sex Junkie,” “Black Leather Monster,” the list goes on and the performances are real classics. And speaking of classics, there’s a ‘bonus’ clip added to the end of the disc of the band slamming out “Monkey Suit” in New Jersey at Summertime Park from 1980.
Since the DVD essentially runs in chronological order, it shows development of their visual aesthetic over one year’s time. It also means that you see how their popularity continued to increase by their steady venue graduation: CBGB, the Calderone Theater, Bond’s Casino, Perkins Place, Dr. Pepper Festival. Early evolutions of the Plasmatics’ legendarily destructive stage shows are caught taking their shapes.
Rod Swenson’s footage immortalizes the early chaotic years of the Plasmatics’ brilliant legacy. ‘Plasmatics LIVE!’ serves as an exceptional document of band’s iconic rawness, sonic force, and its ultimate importance to the generations the followed. Any rock & roll fan worth their salt knows the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ that pertains to the Plasmatics’ legendary status in rock & roll history. ‘Plasmatics LIVE!’ tears a hole in time and looks back at the band’s beginnings to see how they did it.
You can grab a copy of this DVD from MVD, now.