A Crafty Cigarette

Crafty Cigarette

goodbye gemini matteo sedazzari zani 1.j

In the mid sixties, the world saw the birth of hippies. A counter culture, which questioned so much about society, and was not afraid to suggest an alternative lifestyle to the norm. A spectacular movement, with colourful clothes, magnificent music in the guise of The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and many more, with mind-bending drugs and free love. An ethos that went way beyond being a bored teenager, and got the whole world thinking.
/sex and drugs and rock and roll dave cairns zani 2.j

I first saw Ian Dury as Kilburn and The High Roads back in 1975 at the North East London Poly in Walthamstow, which held regular gigs in the main hall from the hippy acts of the day; Gong, Soft Machine, Hawkwind, String Driven Thing to pub rock scene favourites Ducks Deluxe, Ace, The Kursaal Flyers, Brinsley Schwartz and Dr Feelgood with John Peel as resident DJ.

I remember thinking how good his band were but what a strange character he was, dragging himself across the stage in a leg calliper dressed in his trademark  Crombie and silk scarf and using the mike stand as a crutch, and thinking ‘this bloke can’t really sing but he’s got some serious attitude’.

A lot has been made of the 70’s pub rock scene, but it’s no wonder Punk Rock wiped it out, because there were so few bands with any real balls or passion. Only Dr Feelgood would fall into that category and I guess Ian Dury and a few others.

After Malcolm McLaren had dreamed up and  launched The Sex Pistols and his mate Bernie Rhodes did the same with The Clash- featuring of course Joe Strummer from the pub rockers The 101’rs- a lot of the  clever muso bands or simply older good players (successful or otherwise) ran for cover. Whilst others donned the motorbike jackets and plastic trousers, dyed their hair peroxide blonde giving us the excellent Stranglers, The Only Ones and The Vibrators, followed by the likes of Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Ian Dury & The Blockheads on Stiff Records. So I was delighted to see him crack it with the album ‘New Boots and Panties’, in fact I recall being in a Brighton hotel overlooking the seafront, drinking into the small hours with The Jam, and drummer Rick Buckler wouldn’t stop playing the album until the sun came up, so I got to know it rather well. Dury was truly London’s original Punkfather.

The film is a bit of a sad affair to be honest, and a real warts ‘n’ all, but highly stylised and brilliantly directed by  Mat Whitecross .Having read extracts of the new biography and interviews with his son I could see how cleverly this had been scripted and with great casting and performances all round. A lot centres around Ian’s miserable institutionalised childhood stricken with Polio and how it coloured his life, the early chaotic days of the band, the fights, the sackings, his strained relationship with his first wife and how life on the road and his music made him an errant and rather selfish father to his son. We see some creative moments of genius between Ian and his long suffering right hand man and co-writer, Chas Jankel, and some live performance moments faithfully recreated-but not nearly enough for me. His clever blend of simple word play and rhyming, cheeky chappy cockney slang and hilarious observations on working class life spoken in a rap style, put to a soft funk backing, was unique then-although Chas ‘n’ Dave had made their name doing much the same but in a music hall ‘knees up mother brown’ kind of way-and you hear his influence in so many acts these days; think Blur and the ‘posh mockney set’ Lily Allen and Kate Nash.

But as he continually yo-yos between wife and lover, and drags his son through the mire, Ian appears to let success get to his head, hits the self destruct button and let’s his lynchpin and musical partner Chas walk off in frustration. Of course the music slips as he tries to go it alone and by the time Chas comes back the moment, sadly, has gone.

There is a priceless segment on his involvement with the International Year of The Disabled and how splendidly he pisses everyone off with the song ‘Spasticus Austisticus’ a cathartic trip back to the institution that robbed him of his childhood, which the politically correct were appalled by and it was subsequently banned by the BBC . What did they expect- a soppy ballad?

The film then seems to end rather abruptly and doesn’t attempt to cover his decline into ill health and his untimely death from cancer at the age of 57. Nor does it touch on his extensive charity work for UNICEF, which was a bit puzzling and a little unfair I thought, but I’m sure there were reasons for that.

This stylish biopic comes across as a very honest portrayal and doesn’t pull any punches (borne out by comments from his son Baxter) but a little too hard on the man, as I’m sure anyone who suffered the way he did could be forgiven for being more than a little bitter at the cards he’d been dealt in life.

I wondered off down the Holloway Road humming Ian Dury’s ‘What A Waste’ -a sad omission from the soundtrack.

How apt.

© Words - Dave Cairns/ ZANI Ltd
/it may get loud dave cairns zani 2.

It Might Get Loud is a documentary by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim which explores the history of the electric guitar, focusing on the careers and styles of Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. The film received a wide release on August 14th 2009 in the US by Sony Pictures Classics and is now on limited release throughout the UK. Dave Cairns reviews the film for ZANI and his unique perspective of these three legends.
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Everyone has their ‘bit’ in the film don’t they? ‘Charlie don’t surf!’ ‘Who’s in charge?’ and ‘Saigon’
/Performance 1.j
© Words – Paolo Sedazzari
In the history of cinema there is no film quite like Performance - the cult film to end all cult films. Few films inspire such loyalty, such passion and such animated discussions.
cover girl killer harry h corbett zani 5.

Set in the seedy, tawdry backstreet world of strip clubs, tacky photo-shoots, and faded glamour which characterised parts of late 1950s London, Cover Girl Killer  would have made (and indeed probably did make) an ideal bottom-of-the-bill companion to such contemporary productions as Peeping Tom. Written and directed by Terry Bishop, one of the unsung kings of the British b-movie, it stars a pre-Steptoe Harry H. Corbett,

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ZANI was conceived in late 2008 and the fan base gradually grew by word of mouth. Key contributors came from those of the music, film and fashion industry and the voice of ZANI grew louder. So, when in 2013 investor, contributor and fan of ZANI Alan McGee* offered his support to help restyle and relaunch the site it was inevitable that traffic would increase dramatically and continues to grow. *Alan McGee co-founder of Creation Records and new label 359 Music..

 

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