This 2008 DVD is a TV-style talking head documentary that mainly covers the early years of stadium rock band Pink Floyd, and inadvertently reveals how they used the British counterculture to hitch a ride to success. The Floyd themselves come across like a bunch of talentless drama students in the pathetic promo films that are cut into the main feature. Sound wise they vary from seeming like a pleasant if not entirely convincing imitation of The Who (“Arnold Lane”), all the way down to prefiguring a lot of really bad indie bands (“Scarecrow”). There is also some far more interesting archive material on here, but most of it is rather too familiar. There is the famous footage of Beatle John Lennon walking into the “14 Hour Technicolor Dream” at Alexandra Palace (29 April 1967), which anyone actually interested in this sort of thing will have seen dozens of times.
Likewise, did we really need quite so much recycled footage from “Wholly Communion” directed by Peter Whitehead, when the BFI reissued that on DVD in 2007, and anyone who hasn’t seen it clearly isn’t interested in the British counterculture anyway. There is a very brief piece of footage of The Flies playing at Alexandra Palace, but while the BBC “Man Alive” documentary made at the time showed them throwing flour at the audience and allowed you to hear them rockin’ out, pretty much all you get here is a shot of their drum kit with something else dubbed over the top. This is a shame because The Flies were the business, and self-evidently a lot better than Pink Floyd live; presumably this is why the director Stephen Gammond cut their sound from the audio track, he clearly wants to big up original Floyd frontman Syd Barrett and takes many historical liberties to achieve this. There is some footage of The Pretty Things doing “LSD” here too, but this is cut around talking head shots, so you can’t enjoy the music in all it’s glory. Worse yet, while three really tedious Floyd promo shorts are included in their entirety as bonus features, live footage of The Pretty Things and The Flies isn’t accorded the same treatment.
Among the historical turns, we get far too much of Suzy Creamcheese, less than nothing is all I want of this twerp. Like so much else here that doesn’t come from “Wholly Communion”, the Creamcheese footage is culled from the earlier “Man Alive” documentary, and it is even more irritating on a tenth or eleventh viewing than on the first or second! That said, there is some nice pushin’ and shovin’ with the filth going down in the recycled shots of early sixties CND demos. However, the real highlight begins on the last fraction of a second of this movie’s sixty-second minute. Gammond has included 1.04 seconds of archive footage featuring my mother – Julia Callan-Thompson – blowing bubbles. While there is equally brief footage of her at the UK’s premier hippie happening in the “Man Alive” documentary, it is a different shot to the one used here. My mother, at 23 years of age, is clearly the hottest babe in the place! While this film would be much better if Gammond had devoted more time to footage of my mother, the little you get makes the disk worth buying. You can see a bit more of her in the audience at the Alex Trocchi/William Burroughs 1969 ‘State of Revolt’ Arts Lab event covered in Jamie Wadhawan’s “Cain’s Film” – and, of course, as an extra in various British and Bollywood movies of the sixties.
With the odd exception, the talking heads on Gammond’s documentary are a real snore fest. Tired old stories I’ve heard trotted out dozens of times are aired yet again. This film was obviously made on a shoe-string, there isn’t nearly enough archival footage to break up the tedium of the talking heads, and sometimes in a desperate bid to move things along the director simply cuts to recent footage he’s shot in Portobello Road and Camden. The focus on Pink Floyd and John “Hoppy” Hopkins as central to the counterculture is reductive, and also very boring. If Gammond had instead adopted a scatter-shot approach to the underground, one that pulled in a varied cast of characters, his film would have been both more enjoyable and closer to the psychedelic experience. Regardless, and as I’ve already said, it is still worth seeing just for that 1.04 seconds of my mother blowing bubbles at the “14 Hour Technicolor Dream”.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/ – you know it makes (no) sense!
And some more specific links:
The ‘real’ psychedelic scene:
Wholly Communion etc. review:
Trocchi/Burroughs State of Revolt:
Comment by Book Lover on 2009-01-06 14:40:37 +0000
So does that make any of our “friends” from Radio 4 or elsewhere the Pink Floyd of the noughties????
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-06 14:44:09 +0000
You tell me!
Comment by Michael K on 2009-01-06 16:08:36 +0000
I fell thru a wormwhole and ended up at the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream because a UK cyberfriend, who I actually like, invited me to join Facebook. I’ve also found one or two people I haven’t talked to in years on Facebook, and wish I’d never met them again.
Never paid a cent to join. Never bought anything through the site. Never bought anything advertised on the site.
Overall, I find it MUCH less interesting than MySpace, mostly because people only link up with folks they already know. Pointless. I tried to make friends with an attractive stranger who was a fan of the Renaissance painter Massaccio and she responded to me “Excuse me, do I know you?” I mean, FUCK OFF!
Personally, it doesn’t bother me that much that a bunch of rich, goofball righty militarist futurists out to abolish reality and enslave the universe own this thing. Sounds like Chicken Little panic. If the CIA wants to know that I listen to the Fall, watch Plan 9 From Outer Space and root for the New York Giants, they can call and ask me. I don’t really care if they know.
Nor does it really bother me that a bunch of even loonier hedge funds and venture capitalists want to throw money at these guys. Remember the Internet bubble?
Overall, it’s pretty naff and seems populated by wingnuts who like to send each other cyber-cheesecakes and give each other cyber-noogies. But Tom Hodgkinson needs to get some perspective, remove the duct tape from his window frames and take a deep breath.
Comment by Massacciofan on 2009-01-06 17:08:46 +0000
sending you a cyber can of beans
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-06 17:36:47 +0000
will they taste better than the ones from Tesco?
Comment by Massacciofan on 2009-01-06 18:17:19 +0000
even better than Ukrainian galushkis
Comment by Michael K on 2009-01-06 18:19:40 +0000
People talk about me, baby
Say Im doin you wrong, doin you wrong
Well, dont you worry baby
Cause Im right here, right here, right here, right here at home
Comment by kncln on 2009-01-06 18:23:19 +0000
Sunday 11th January 2009
Comment by Mister Trippy on 2009-01-06 18:27:04 +0000
I know! And more and more subscribers find that subscribing is the way to subscribe!
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-06 18:38:23 +0000
It’s a groove sensation baby! Or at least the 1.04 seconds of my mother is like a the grooviest thing on earth!
Comment by Michael K on 2009-01-06 18:59:35 +0000
Hey…do you mean that you only just caught the clip in that DVD? It’s kind of amazing that all of this was hidden to you until relatively recently…
Comment by Mister Trippy on 2009-01-06 21:27:36 +0000
Comment by Massacciofan on 2009-01-06 22:09:18 +0000
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-06 23:25:05 +0000
You know it is as if my Wellington boots had been filled with custard and that had been distracting me from what was going on before my very eyes… but now the Wellington boots have been removed and while my feet and calves are covered in gunk, at least I can see clearly now!
Comment by Michael K on 2009-01-07 02:53:58 +0000
Well I regularly deactivate my Facebook profile so that Stewart and I dont get confused as to who’s supposed to be ‘on’. The problem..I mean…. the sploshing… arises when his and my sector of the abberation combine with the illnesses of others on Facebook who may or may not be waking either of us up in the middle of the night to log onto Forkbook using their identity….
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-07 03:11:12 +0000
Yeah, and some days we just forget we’re human and go around thinking we’re a train and going “toot toot” – but that’s alright as long as only one of us gets that way, coz the other can take on a double multiple personality load for a while… but if we both get to thinking we’re trains at the same time all you’ll get is cut and paste comments, but then whose complaining when they’re so post-modern that they’re the ultimate groove sensation!
Comment by Massacciofan on 2009-01-07 07:58:36 +0000
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-07 08:20:44 +0000
See, see, her lips draw forth my soul! See where it flies in the firmament!
Comment by Dialogue on 2009-01-07 17:02:20 +0000
with the Dead
The Monument to the
3pm Sunday, 11th January 2009
For those who would like to engage in this on a
full stomach, meet for lunch from 1 pm at:
The Old Nun’s Head
15 Nunhead Green, SE15 3QQ
Overground: Nunhead or Peckham Rye
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-07 19:28:34 +0000
Nunhead Cemetery sounds like a great place to film an exploitation movie… anyone for nympho zombie nuns running amok in Peckham?
Comment by Dialogue on 2009-01-08 17:44:52 +0000
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-01-08 23:05:34 +0000
that means that we have something in common, and if we both make it on Sunday…..
Comment by san on 2009-01-27 10:03:31 +0000
Nice work! I’ll have to do a cross post on this one 😉