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Punk Before Punk

August 3, 2010

What is punk?

If you’re looking for an answer then Julien Temple’s final film in his trilogy of punk documentaries, Oil City Confidential, provides its fair share of youthful rebellion and anti-authoritarian outspokenness. A ‘prequel to punk’, the film paints Canvey Island rockers, Dr. Feelgood, as the future movement’s progenitors.  

Maybe, it’s cos I’m an Essex boy, but this really is the best rockumentary I have ever seen.

Nobily they ploughed their own rock furrow, eschewing the excesses of mainstream rock and playing what they wanted to play. Guitarist, Wilco Johnson, is a whirlwind of poetry and madness and glues this brilliant film together, taking in both the band’s nascent days in the strange Estuary-land that bore them, to their mid-70s success, before their eventual implosion on the cusp of Punk’s birth.

What’s so poetic about the Feelgoods’ is that the 3 surviving band members (sadly Lee Brilleaux died in ’94) are still out there tearing up the weathered clubs of Canvey Island that they started in. Whereas John Lydon caught their slipstream, found success, then ran off to the country to wax lyrical about butter, the Feelgoods remain stoic underdogs, compelling personalities, undeterred by circumstance and  happy to laugh in the face of what might have been.

Now that really is punk.

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