So, was it worth the wait?
Yes. The full-length video accompaniment to Hellcat Records' "Give 'Em the Boot" sampler series met my expectations. After a brief introduction from Joe Strummer and Tim Armstrong (Joe does all the talking, while Tim stands by with a grin on his face), a live recording of "Ruby Soho" kicks in and sets the pace for the rest of what's to come, which is a quality collection of punk rock, ska and psychobilly music.
The sound quality is crisp and clear, and the expertly-shot live footage is filmed from multiple angles and corroborated flawlessly into one dynamic, fluid sequence that is truly a pleasure to watch. The first non-Rancid offering is Tiger Army's "Never Die," which alternates between shots of a massive, churning circle pit full of mohawks and the band blazing furiously through the song in a way that will get your adrenaline pumping. All of Hellcat's finest are represented, including the U.S. Bombs, Dropkick Murphys, F-Minus, the Slackers and Lars Frederiksen & the Bastards. To be honest, before I bought this DVD, I wasn't familiar with a few of the featured bands, yet I watched their performances without hitting the "Next" button because they're just that well-done.
The live performances are interspersed with a diverse grab bag of goodies from Tim's private stash, which include the outspokenly pro-union Dropkick Murphys serenading a group of striking stagehands, the painting of a mural for the late Joe Strummer (keep an eye out for Steve Buscemi), and the members of Rancid jamming a Stooges song backstage with none other than Iggy Pop himself.
Of course, Tim Armstrong's own Rancid is given ample coverage in this DVD. The acoustic renditions of "Roots Radicals" and "Rats in the Hallway" sound surprisingly good and are played as background music for montages of travel and backage footage. AFI fans will delight in seeing Davey Havok stepping in to help with vocal duties on a rowdy live performance of "Radio." Of all the Rancid live cuts included, my favorite is the extended version of "Maxwell Murder," during which Matt Freeman takes center stage and demonstrates why he is among the most respected bass players in music today.
The Hellcat DVD is a "bare bones" offering, meaning that it contains the feature movie and nothing else -- no commentary, deleted scenes, extra interviews or other options. However, this DVD is packed with so much good stuff that you won't notice or care. If I had to pick one thing to complain about, it would be the lack of anything related to Choking Victim or Leftover Crack. Outside of that, the Hellcat DVD will satisfy both veteran Hellcat fans and newbies who want a sample platter of the many great acts this label has to offer. Clocking in at just under 80 minutes, this DVD leaves you wanting more, but not in the sense that you've been cheated out of your money; you'll be hoping that Tim has another one of these in the works.