Writer and director W.T Morgan is a name engraved in the history of the Los Angeles punk band X. When Morgan made his debut foray into feature film narrative work with his rock ‘n’ roll love letter to his college radio roots in A Matter of Degrees (1991), he cast X’s bassist John Doe in one of Doe’s best-remembered roles as a burnt-out college rock disc jockey at odds with the commercialization of radio broadcasting. And that theme of the homogenization of music and radio industries carries through in this rock-doc.
As with the four-years-in-production schedule Doe experienced with his first acting gig in Border Radio (started in 1982, released in 1987), W.T Morgan followed the band around Los Angeles and Southern California between 1980 to 1985. In addition to its sixteen-song strong soundtrack of the band in the studio and live on stage, the film also features band interviews, along with footage and insights from local disc jockeys, record store owners, and other local movers and shakers.
Granted with a limited art house release, this is one that punkers were first exposed to as result of its multiple showings on HBO and the resulting VHS tapes that hit the shelves. The DVD and Blu-ray version was issued on December 7, 2011, and includes a special features section with John Doe and Exene Cervenka discussing the film.
X: The Unheard Music is available on a wide variety of VOD streaming platforms, but we found a copy on You Tube. This is X in their prime. If there’s any punk document to watch, it’s this one. Watch it. And they still got “it,” as this 2019 full concert, courtesy of The Current.