Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation: London Invasion 1987

Public Enemy

It Takes A Nation: The First
London Invasion Tour 1987

(Music Video Distributors, 2005)

By Mark Prindle

I don’t usually tell jokes in today’s world of pain and the ozone layer but this Public Enemy DVD is hilarious. Have you ever heard of 1987? It was the year that Rap’s famed Public Enemy, then featuring Chuck D, Flavor-Flav, Terminator X, Professor Griff and a bunch of guys in military uniforms, stormed Europe’s famed Britain, unleashing their post-Malcolm X / sub-Black Panther schtick to a whole Barmy Army of white chaps and chippies. Perhaps you’ve heard It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back and its many live-concert snippets? THEY WERE ALL PULLED FROM THIS BRAND NEW DVD!!!! I realize that this negates all formerly held notions of time and order, but if it weren’t for scientific discoveries of this sort, we’d still be praying to ridiculous “all-knowing Gods” with the “power” to “torment disbelievers for all of eternity”. HA AHAHAH !!!AHH AHH HHAHAHAHAHAH YOU STUPID PAST SOCIETIES LONG GONE!!!

This material was recorded live on November 1-3, 1987 at Motörhead’s famed Hammersmith Odeon in London. But don’t think you’re getting nuthin’ but a live show because this disc is much MUCH more than just that. It also features an ass-whooping of behind-the-scenes footage and interview snippets, including the strange claim that the S1W exists to “hold classes and seminars.” (?) These guys REALLY wanted to be taken seriously as political activist leaders of the new age, which is fine except for the fact that they hardly had any political material AT ALL at this point in their career! I mean, there’s like TWO serious songs on Yo! Bum Rush The Show; the rest are about Chuck’s car and rapping skills and bullsense. That’s why it’s so bizarre to sit through a braggart tune like “Miuzi Weighs A Ton” and then watch Chuck talk about how he likes Britain because they really listen to WHAT HE’S SAYING and grasp the importance of his WORDS. “Suckaz to the side, I know ya hate my ‘98!” Revolutionary words indeed.

Another entirely oddball thing is something of which I had no idea -- did you know that in concert, Public Enemy simply rap over their records? So you hear the voices coming out of their mouths and the voices on the record at the same time? Which means that there is absolutely no opportunity for any in-concert spontaneity? Which suggests that the concept of mixing down instrumental versions of their albums specifically for live use DIDN’T EVEN OCCUR TO THEM!??!?!?!? I would gladly put this down to youthful ignorance and poor planning except that the disc also includes a live version of “She Watch Channel Zero” from 2003 and they were doing the same thing even then (as sadly showcased by a tired, aged, post-junkie Flavor Flav calmly intoning his spoken segments as the voice of a hyperactive high-pitched young Flavor Flav recites the same exact words in the background). And they didn’t even try to hide it! One of the behind-the-scenes pieces shows Flavor Flav trying to remember what “aside” he is supposed to say after some verse in some song: you should see how nervous he makes everybody when he threatens to “improvise”!

For all of these reasons, this DVD is an absolute hoot of enjoyabilityment. They were young as hell, still figuring out what they were trying to do (Even Chuck D was still wearing a big clock around his neck at this point! Not just Flavor Flavor, but CHUCK D! A big dumb clock!!! And not on his wall, but around his NECK!!! Clocks don’t go there!!!!! Am I the only normal one???), and it’s a total gas finally being able to put visuals to classic ITANOMTHUB audials like “Bring that beat back! Bring the beat back!” and “If y’all really like to rock the funky beats, somebody in the house say ‘Hell yeah!’” Bonus features include a newly-recorded commentary track by Mr. D, rare photos, two live tracks from 2003 (aforementioned “She Watch Channel Zero” and a full-band (!) performance of.... hmm. “Can’t Truss It”? “Nightrain?,” something like that), and a bonus audio CD featuring the entire concert and a bunch of PE remixes by DJ Spooky, DJ Lord, DJ Johnny Juice, DJ Bonebrake, BJ Thomas, CJ Ramone and JD Considine.

I don’t often tell people to buy DVDs, so don’t buy this one, but it’s a MUST-OWN for fans of classic Public Enemy so buy the FUCK out of this one! Hell, STEAL it if you have to! But steal it in such a way that Music Video Distributors receive money for it. Those people work hard and don’t need pricks like you stealing medicine from their sick babies’ mouths.

Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation: London Invasion 1987

Before they released It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy invaded London as part of the Def Jam '87 Tour (along with L.L. Cool J and Eric B. & Rakim). The landmark recording that followed incorporates a number of concert excerpts, including, "London, England, consider yourself warned," "I like that from the people up top," and "Bass for your face, London." In case you ever wondered where those snippets came from, London Invasion '87 is the answer. Along with their exhortations to the Hammersmith Odeon's capacity crowd, this 48-minute film features live performances of early hits, like "My Uzi Weighs a Ton" (Yo! Bum Rush the Show), and soon-to-be-classics, like "Bring the Noise," along with backstage banter from Chuck D, Flavor Flav, and Professor Griff. As befits the group in their early days, this isn't a slick document, but it's an undeniably historic one. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Product Description
Check out and follow Public Enemy on their very first embarkment upon the Euro-UK shores during the Def Jam tour of 1987. Thatcher was Prime Minister, Nelson Mandela was still in a South African prison, Reagan was US president, the Wall was still up and

4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Video Documentary- way Overdue, June 6, 2005
By Hype Currie "scholar of pop culture" (Detroit, Michigan United States) - See all my reviews
Hip-Hop needs more video and audio documentation of concerts, especially in this era of the video superstar, where plenty of rap acts kind of become lazy to the art of live performance.. PE is one of the pioneers that helped bring respect to rap as a live phenomena, and not just a records-only experience.

When I copped mine, it was great... I wonder what sales are so far.. old school fans and younger rap fans can gain a lot from watching and listening to this..

You get to see the full 1987 concert of Public Enemy, as the opening act for LL Cool J-- watch for an extended cameo of LL!

.. loving the live concert cuts on the audio cd, 11 deep, from the YO BUM RUSH THE SHOW LP, though some were excerpted more than I expected..

The bonus cuts and remixes go from Trance to Drum N Bass to Trip Hop to Euro-House and more..

also the bonus cuts-- new cut "bass in ya face", DJ spooky's 'drums of death' trance remix of PE #1, also the Geronimo Punx dark-core remix of the same cut, johnny juice's remix of mklvfkwr, 23 skiddoo's remix of "Do You Wanna Go Our Way", also the NextMen's remix of the same cut; the brand new "bring that beat back", etc..

I guess WORLD TOUR SESSIONS is next on the menu?
or Rebirth of a Nation?