Tag Archives: documentary

The Gun Club

I have a piece in the latest Uncut about the Gun Club, the band fronted by Jeffrey Lee Pierce. The Gun Club trailblazed the kind of killer punk-swamp-country-blues later taken on, more lucratively, by Nick Cave and the White Stripes.

Born in California, Pierce settled in London in 1985. He spent a lot of his time hanging out at the Batcave, the Goth nightclub in Soho’s Dean Street.

Pierce left London in 1995, when he was deported after wielding a samurai sword in a Kensington pub. Which makes this trailer for what appears to be an Italian documentary from 2008 all the more intriguing, as it features Pierce wielding a samurai sword in London in 1992. (I’m not sure if it is the same film as this 2006 documentary, Ghost on the Highway.)

Pierce was a talented enigma, who made some amazing music. They also wrote the best song title ever, in Sex Beat, which pretty much sums up what all rock ‘n’ roll is really about.

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Strippers, beatniks, bikers and mods: celebrating BFI Flipside

I have a small piece in the Independent celebrating BFI Flipside, the BFI’s DVD label for forgotten, weird British films from the 1960s and 1970s.

The key Flipside films for any self-respecting London nerd are ‘London In The Raw’ and ‘Primitive London’, two endlessly fascinating exploitation documentaries that ‘lay bare’ the London of the mid-60s, with much emphasis on the weird and the shocking.

These are dayglo Soho-obsessed precursors to the rightly cherished London classic ‘The London Nobody Knows’, but possibly more entertaining for their utter shamelessness: here you’ll find strippers, wife-swapping, prostitution, Jack The Ripper re-enactments – anything that may titillate and tantalise.

It’s pretty tame stuff now of course, which is partly what makes it so intriguing. This is a key point of London history – as the hairy freaks massed their forces in preparation for the myriad cultural explosions of the late-60s – and these films capture some of that sense of a city teetering on the brink of… something. Check them out, you won’t be disappointed.