J.D. Lafrance
The Sugarcubes Live Zabor DVD Review

The Sugarcubes Live Zabor

March 23, 2006

Director: Richard Heslop,
Starring: Björk, Einar Orn, Margrét Örnólfsdóttir, Sigtryggur Baldursson, Bragi Ólafsson, Thor Eldon, Einar Melax, ,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

The Sugarcubes were the first Icelandic musical group to become successful on an international level. They tapped into the college market here in North America with their unique sound that made them instant indie darlings. The band first formed in 1986 with all of their members cutting their teeth in other bands before finally coming together as the Sugarcubes. In 1987, they signed to One Little Indian in the U.K. and Elektra Records in the United States. The Sugarcubes released their debut album, Life’s Too Good to much critical acclaim but after the release of their third album, Stick Around for Joy in 1992, the band called it quits.

This DVD features concert footage from gigs at the London Astoria, Auburn, Alabama and in Reykjavik during their 1988 tour. The disc cuts between these live clips and monologues by the band. For example, Magga gives us a walking tour of an Icelandic grocery store while Siggi pokes fun at the Bible belt in the United States. Bjork talks about watching television and then takes a look at its internal components. Quite often these quirky, goofy speeches lead into and are related in some way to the next song.

It is nice to see Bjork early on her career before her extremely successful solo career launched her into even greater fame and fortune. She has an infectious pixie-ish energy and a voice unlike anybody else in the world. Her voice soars to incredible levels, like on the punkish song, “Cowboy.” The band has a playful energy live as evident on “Cat” when a band member brings out an inflatable gorilla and places it on Bjork and then he starts singing to it as the song continues. Their signature song, “Birthday” is showcased in a stirring rendition as Bjork’s singing is strong and yet also displays an endearing vulnerability.

The quality of the video is excellent with the audio being quite crisp and clear. This DVD is a nice snapshot of the Sugarcubes in their prime and a glimpse into their band dynamic in a live setting. They were a very tight group with a fascinating mix of musical styles.

Special Features:

Buyer beware, however. There is a mistake on the track listing. One of the chapters contains two segments instead of one thereby throwing the rest of the listing off. The case also lists a bonus track that doesn’t exist. Hopefully, Rhino will fix this in a future pressing.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 70%



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