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Slow Songs For Fast Hearts: Went to another movie the other day...


Went to another movie the other day...

Ok, here’s a funny story. I went to see a screening of the Punk Rock Movie, made by Don Letts at Rough Trade (London, obv) the other day, most especially because Don Letts himself was doing a Q & A afterwards and then dj-ing instore.

I thought I’d already seen this, but apparently I’d seen Punk Attitude which was a later documentary he made comprised of interviews. The Punk Rock Movie was made around ’76/‘77 and was a montage of scenes from gigs, the Sex shop getting in trouble with the cops, bands on tour such as the Clash & the Slits and general punk goings-on in the UK, no formal interviews, just lots of gritty footage. Unfortunately the sound was bad, but afterwards Don said that since he made it way back in the day (it was like his first movie or something, and he seemed a mixture of embarrassed and proud of it), others had gone and overlaid sound and that’s why it often didn’t match up with the action and was so bad etc. But, you know, it was an amazing slice of history made by one who was there, instrumental to the whole early punk thing etc etc.

Anyways, so actual movie aside I was just keen to hear Don Letts talk, and he was pretty cool luckily! I was impressed he was just so laid back and normal about it all, and his anecdotes were interesting (e.g. one woman asked him how he compared the first Rock against Racism festival to the recent one, and he said he didn’t go to the first one, cos his girlfriend had just run off with Joe Strummer, and the Clash were playing so he stayed home and sulked). He also didn’t do the whole “oh it was so much better in the olden days” thing, which was good, but he didn’t really seem to think too much of punk today, he was more keen on dubstep etc which is probably more just about what he was into than anything else.

The lame-ness in fact came from the audience. Ok, for example, (here we go) one guy had the nerve to ask Don if he though the Slits would have benefitted from more time in the rehearsal studio, like, did they wreck their career by playing too early when they were crap – OMFG where to start with that doozy of a question. I just sunk down in my chair feeling sooo embarrassed for the dude, but luckily Don Letts was not an aggro sort of guy and just kind of tactfully said something along the lines of, no not at all, that was the “punk attitude” of the day. But I mean beyond the “punk attitude”, were the Slits any crapper than the Sex Pistols or any of those other bands when they started out? Its been said a thousand times before that Sid Vicious was hardly ever even playing!! Why was that not mentioned? What about the footage of the young Billy Idol? So does that guy think that the popstar Billy bacame was a good and natural progression for a former punk-rocker or something? If the Slits had wasted time in the rehearsal studio, “punk” would’ve been over! The whole point was…well you know! I’m sure I don’t have to explain it to death. My god, why is it not obvious that bands with women are ALWAYS just written off like this? The guy just fell straight into the trap of reading all the lazy reviews of Buzzcock-loving music critics and had obviously made up his mind that the Slits were a bit of a joke band. Was he there watching them back in the day? Maybe he was (he was sorta old), but if that’s the case then how did he become so brainwashed as to be the kind of person to ask that question today? And has he seen the Slits play recently? What about the huge post punk era that they were instrumental in? The fact they inspired riot grrrl and all kinds of diy music that CHANGE PEOPLE’S LIVES? They certainly did not fade away to obscurity or get chucked on the one-hit wonder joke pile.

That’s not all, there were other audience members who wanted Don Letts to collude with them on this whole “nothing’s going on in the world of punk music these days…you know, these kids today… Green Day… etc, etc”... And my friend who was sitting next to me had to just jump up and be like, “where the hell are you going to see bands??!” cos she was one of the organisers of the highly successful (and regular I think) Scumfest this year, and also one only has to look beyond the Top 40 everyone kept inexplicably referring to, to find amazing punk/diy bands alive and kicking.

Another hilarious question someone put after I think the discussion got around to how punk was about “just going out and doing it” was something like, “but surely those bands needed to make money, how could you not live without money?” COME ON! Were these people not at Rough Trade? Were they not there to watch the PUNK ROCK movie and listen to DON LETTS? What planet were they from? What lives do they lead? gah!! I’m sure this audience was not an example of London’s finest but you know, I was very very surprised.

Posted Aug 29, 12:45 PM | By Melissa |
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