Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Biff, Bang, Poo
Spent last night in North Road, by accident, in the company of Mo and Paul, by accident. Was accosted in the street by Paul who dragged me into the house as I made my journey out for le pain quotidien. I had fully intended to return home and do some work...just something...some editing, some blog-bollocks, some actual writing if you can imagine. But the lure of beer, curry and watching "Deathline" in company was too much for me. So I bollocksed the biro and tucked myself in for the evening. I had forgotten how good the film was: fantastic music, brilliant premise, magnificent set-pieces, gorgeous camera work, positive and affirmative roles for black people (making it practically a one off for the early seventies!). And Donald Pleasance in his best ever role. He is extraordinary, alternately hilarious and terrifying...and he's the goodie! His tag-team with Norman Rossington (always excellent, always under-used) was as good as Waverley and Trout in the "Phibes" films. High praise indeed. From me, at any rate.
After that we watched "Upside Down", the embarrassing story of Creation records. Mo describes Alan McGee as "a first year student talking loudly on a bus about how wasted they got during Fresher's week" and she is on the money. I grew up with these records, idolising The Jesus and Mary Chain, The House of Love and My Bloody Valentine. And some of the music is timelessly great; "Some Candy Talking" still sounds like the best record ever made; "Loveless" sounds like no music ever made. But my god, the men who made these records were cocks and the man who enabled them the biggest cock in the cockpit. McGee, filmed in crisp black and white that flatters everyone else in the film, looks like a roasting pig in a series of ill-advised hats, his great long ears melting down the side of his head, his jowls ice-white under the camera's glare. He smirks and sniggers and boasts, recounting tales of mismanaging bands, companies, contracts and funds. He talks about all the drugs, the money wasted, the terrible records released (The Loft, The Weather Prophets, The Legend!, Baby Amphetamine, SLOWDIVE!). The way that he had to be bailed out by major labels when his luck ran out and about his own substance induced break-down. He is unapologetic. He deploys the famous, useless catch-all phrase that he and Bobby Gillespie have been bandying around for thirty years to excuse their juvenile antics: it's only rock 'n' roll - if you don't like it you're boring and square*. This despite the fact that McGee was in Biff Bang Pow; tubby purveyors of twelve-string jangle and Gillespie looks like the last boy picked for football; the type who pulls his shorts and pants down at the urinal on the first day of school. At least Gillespie talks a good fight, McGee comes across as a self-congratulatory, drugged up bully-boy; shouting into telephones and forcing drugs on his employees. Awful.
Paul and Mo on the other hand are delights. They will both be gone by the end of next week - off to Madrid to teach English as a foreign language. There are no jobs in Belfast so they've both taken the Enfanta's shilling and are away. It'll be great for them I don't doubt: sun, fun, actual proper jobs. I will miss them.
*actually I am both. That doesn't stop these men from being pricks.