Archive for September 25th, 2010

Oil City Confidential

As well as making movies and music videos, director Julien Temple has developed into a supremely talented documentary filmmaker responsible for the excellent Requiem for Detroit (2010) as well was the rockumentaries: The Filth and the Fury (2000)(about the Sex Pistols), Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (2007) and Glastonbury (2006). This movie about 70’s Rock n Roll/ R&B band Dr Feelgood probably represents the pinnacle of his work.

For those who don’t know Dr Feelgood started out as a pre punk pub-rock era band who have a reasonable and fiercely loyal following but never really made it. Coming from Canvey Island, a strange reclaimed island in the Thames estuary (or the “Delta” as Wilko Johnson likes to call it) shaped their outlook on life and their music. Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn’s quote in the movie The Blues Brothers “We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline” applies just as much to Dr Feelgood as it does to The Blues Brothers. The original line-up of Lee Brilleaux, Wilko Johnson, John B Sparks and The Big Figure only stayed together for around a decade, the live album, Stupidity and the single Milk and Alcohol representing the height of their fame. Fantastically shot making the most of the unusual location, the movie is made up of modern day interviews and archive footage of the band interspersed with clips from old movies including British heist movie Payroll (1961). The overriding theme that comes from the movie is that they are basically a bunch of normal, everyday guys who got together for the all the right reasons, namely the love of music and split up for all the usual ones.

Like the band it is about the movie offers nothing new or revolutionary to the “rockumentary” genre but doing everything about as well as is feasibly possibly. This is one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time. If you are a fan of the band you will love this insightful piece; if you don’t know the band, you will be a fan by the end of the movie; if you don’t like the band, shame on you! 

Four Stars out of Five


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