Flawed is Beautiful
Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T reviews the DIY film that chronicles the scene that inspired our zine...
This is the sound of youth.
Or to speak more personally, this is the sound of the end of my youth....
Or, perhaps more accurately, this is the sound of youth trying to recreate some generation gaps.
Although, looking back, maybe it's not really about age...
It's about a spiky, gobby, opinionated, DIY, underground scene of no hopers and losers rejecting the blurry blow-dried brain-dead dreary baggy consensus, by trying to create an adrenaline fuelled, speed thrilled, scissor kicking anarchic oasis of something new, rebellious, exciting, challenging...
The bands involved, umbrelled together in 'The New Wave of New Wave' scene, attempted to forge this mini musical revolution in a gloriously chaotic hotchpotch of ways. Some used drugs, others politics, or clothes, music or sexuality... Weapons so varied as to perhaps bring into question the assertion that this actually was a recognisable movement, but the fact that they all did it together allows us to dream that perhaps it was. All that was certain vanished into air, all that was common sense was called into question, challenged and briefly overthrown. It was the moment that everyday working class kids could dream of rising from the pit of mind-forged dull mediocrity, and shine.
Not by all the bands nor all the time, but it was this insurrection against the establishment of common sense which made it bliss at these gigs to be alive, and to be young was very Heaven.
Flawed is Beautiful does a top job of recreating these fleeting moments and showing why this period, these bands, these ideals, mattered so much to people. It does this brilliantly through mixing incredibly raw and exciting live footage, insights from fans and genuinely knowledgeable passionate music writers, ignorant comments from Tory gobshites of the day, and interviews with band members, both ancient and modern. Shots of These Animal Men in their pomp versus the pompous self righteous cynics who tried to ban them, of S*M*A*S*H blasting the massive Anti Nazi League Carnival, and rocking a thousand small town gits, and clips of both bands ripping the shit on Top of the Pops, will simultaneously make you laugh and cry.
Just like the story the movie tells, with the rise from nothing to a spitting distance of fame and fortune, and then back into despair and darkness.
And then resurrection, through this film.
The documentary is genuinely exciting and moving and inspiring to watch, as the director succeeds in that rare feat of making reminiscences almost as raucous and unpredictable and chaotic and incendiary as the real thing, baby. Who'd have thought that he didn't own a camera or any editing software before beginning work on this, an unfunded labour of love, made because he felt it had to be made, and because no fucker else was going to do it?!
My only criticism is that there is one missing voice in the film that of The Manic Street Preachers who were simultaneously (if defiantly separately) trying to create a new art riot of their own, and acted as inspiration for many NWONW bands. The same cultural and social factors that agitated and exasperated and inspired S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men, also drove the Manics, and they were kicked by the same pricks. This aside, this film succeeds in showing how exciting and optmism inducing it was to be part of this movement; to believe that after too many years of hedonistic nonsense and baggy bullshit, maybe we were about to have a music, a scene and maybe even a society that meant something.
And if fate and record labels and the fickle media hadn't intervened, maybe we could have changed the world. Or at least changed the soundtrack...
Perhaps it was better the NWONW scene collapsed into Brit Pop glitz when it did, leaving us with such a beautiful corpse and uncorrupted memories? And, as this film shows, R*E*P*E*A*T is far from the only creative organ inspired by tsunami of the New Wave of New Wave since its completion, the film has brought a whole host of creative types out of the woodwork, paying their dues to the likes of S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men, and I am sure there are many more who have never been the same since.
Maybe S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men and the New Wave of New Wave didn't shake the musical establishment in the way we wanted them to. Maybe they didn't quite produce what they or we thought they were capable of. Maybe the energy, the ideals and some rather incredible song writing has been unjustly overlooked by the taste-mongers who write our history. So this film does an essential job of reminding us that, despite the imperfections, these bands changed lives.
The lesson I draw from it all is that we don't have to accept the crap, we don't have to sit back and relax. We might not all be a Richey Edwards or a Leon Trotsky, we might ultimately not all be S*T*A*R material and in fact might be 'properly destined for the bottom' (as Hooligan says in the film).
However we can all make a difference. Write your own song, form your own band, set up a fanzine or website, or make a movie be an empowered, if imperfect, creator, not a craven consumer.
Because flawed is beautiful.
These Animal Men reform to play Heaven with S*M*A*S*H
on 11th September details here