FILM Don Letts
Don Letts: did it himself
It's not stretching a point too far to suggest that, had it not been for Don Letts, the sound of British punk would have evolved along a different path. What is wholly indisputable, moreover, is that Without Letts our visual record of that time would be vastly impoverished, and for the most part consist of neutered documentation.
The man who Singlehandedly turned the punks onto the dub reggae which slowly infected the Clash, the Slits and defined the terrain for PiL's ground- breaking second album Metal Box, Letts also created the definitive Punk Rock Movie, all verite', energy and sellotape.
Don Letts began to be aware of the figures who would eventually make up the first wave of punk in the early 70s, as they began haunting Acme Attractions, the retro boutique he fronted on the Kings Road, a gob away from McLaren and Westwood’s notorious SEX. Acme throbbed to the rhythms at the semi-consCious edge of fashion, in a constant state of flux.
What remained solid was the steady pulse of the music which Letts was pouring through the shop's PA.
’We didn’t consider ourselves rivals at the time,’ Letts recalls, ’but our shop and Malcolm’s were the places all the punks came to. If they weren’t in Malcolm’s shop they’d be in mine, and quite often they'd be there because I was playing dub reggae all the time, and a lot of people drifted in through the doors because of that — John, some of the Clash, Sid — all kinds of people. Patti Smith.‘
Initially Viewing these figures With some suspiCion, Letts was soon a central fixture of that early scene, installed as resident DJ at the short-lived first gasp of the Roxy club. Having Just bought himself a Super-8 camera, Letts slowly began documenting what was unfolding around him.
'Part of the whole trip was a DIY ethic,’ Letts explains. ’A good idea attempted is better than a bad idea perfected. They were all picking up guitars or starting fanZines, and that energy made you want to be involved. So, instead of picking up a guitar, I picked up a camera, and tried to capture this thing. Punk taught people not to be intimidated by either the medium or the myth. It didn't JUSI happen and then disappear — it left a blueprint for people to access and use. People are often blinded by science, and.maybe don't realise that technical Virtuosity is not what it's all about; the idea is more important. That's what punk was about. It still is.'
(Damien Love) I Punk Rock: The Movie will be shown at the CCA, Sat 25 Jul. Letts presents.
VERY POST PUNK Vic Godard Glasgow: CCA, Sun 26 Jul.
Vic Godard: back in the biz
It is not unusual to Cite getting a gUitar for Christmas as the moment when you deCided that you were gOing to launch youself at the rock and pop world With hitherto unprecedented VlgOUl. However, for cult punk personality and musical eccentric Vic Godard, that moment of revelation came a little later than most — years after his group Subway Sect had added their own idiosyncratic footnote to punk and post-punk history via glorious songs like 'Ambition’ and 'Holiday Hymn’; years after he had forged a solo-ish career backed by a
band who were to become loboxers (ask your grandparents — it’s all true). In fact, Vic Godard had officially left the music industry before he discovered that making music was actually what he wanted to do With his life.
'I'm working a lot more now than I ever did in the punk era,’ says Godard in his distinctive Malcolm McLaren- esque drawl. 'I did sod all then, musically. Bernie Rhodes [Clash and Subway Sect manager] did a lot of stuff for Subway Sect Without us really taking any notice of it. In the old days we were JUSI into the clothes and that side of it. Everything except the muSic.'
It wasn’t until the 90s and said Christmas present, coupled With the acquiSition of four-track recording equipment, that Godard decided to reverse his emphatic exit from showbusiness.
'That’s when I got into singing and once you get into Singing you get into everything,' he says. ’With four—track recording you learn how to do it properly. All that old stuff — we didn't know what we were dOing If y0u can keep what makes the old records special, keep the indiViduality and make it sound good, that's the aim.’
We'll need to wait until September to hear the recorded results on his new Edwyn Collins-produced album Long Term Side Effect and an EP featuring collaborations With the likes of Adventures In Stereo, but live renditions of his latest material are Just round the corner courtesy of the 10 Day Weekend. (Fiona Shepherd)
Here are the 10 Day Weekend events taking lace this issue. Compiled by Fiona S epherd.
I Alan McGee In Conversation Gilmorehill Theatre. Glasgow University. University Avenue. 6pm. Free. A maximum of two tickets per person can be acquired by calling 946 0001. Always vocal on matters musical. political and economic. the ex-pat Glaswegian boss of Creation Records is featured in conversation with Bea! Patrol presenter Peter Easton. See preview.
I AC Acoustics and Macrocosmica Nice 'n' Sleazy. Sauchiehall Street. 333 9637. 9pm. £3.50. Glaswegian noisenik favourites AC Acoustics continue their association with the 10 Day Weekend by playing their first home town gig in some time. New material is on the cards. Support from Macrocosmica. whose sound encompasses everything from DC hardcore to floaty ambience with samples.
I Opening Party The l3lh Note Club. Clyde Street. 221 0414. 11pm. £3.50. Various members of bands who will be playing during the 10 Day Weekend get to spin their record collections in celebration of the commencement of this year's musical revelry.
' SATURDAY 25
I Punk Rock: The Movie CCA. Sauchiehall Street. 3320522. 7.30pm. £3.50. See panel for Don Letts. director of Punk Rock: The Movie. who will be introducing this document of the times along with videos he has subsequently directed for the likes of The Clash and Black Grape.
I Urgh! A Music War Studio Theatre. CCA. Sauchiehall Street. 3320522. 5pm. £3.50. Screening of the documentary which does for post-punk what Punk Ror‘k.’ The Movie did for punk — showcases many of the best bands of the era. Made in 1980. it features performances from The Police. Magazine and Gang Of Four. so it must be yreat.
I Vic Godard, Adventures In tereo and The Secret Goldfish CCA. Sauchiehall Street. 3320522. 8pm. £5. Tickets from the CCA box oftice and John Smiths. Byres Road. 334 276‘). See panel for Vic Godard. who will be backed by a band made tip of various musicians from the Creeping Bent roster. Adventures In Stereo and The Secret Goldfish from said label provide the support. fresh from their collaboration with Godard at John Peel's Meltdown festival.
I Rude Boy King Tut‘s Wah Wah Hut. St Vincent Street. 221 527‘). 8pm. £1. See panel. The redoubtable Fleapit Film Club
The Delgados show off their lovely Peloton album at the Mitchell Theatre. Sat 1 Aug.
10 DAY WEEKEND
show this punk equivalent ofAbba: The Movie in which a fictional Clash fan follows the group around on tour. There will also be separate footage of the London and New York punk scenes.
I Radio In Scotland — Where Next? Gilmorehill Theatre. Glasgow University. University Avenue. 6pm. Free. Phone 946 0001 for tickets. A representative from each of the bids competing for the new Central Scottish radio franchise will make a brief presentation and this will be followed by a panel discussion and questions from the floor.
I Mary Jane's Not A Virgin Anymore The Arches. Midland Street. 221 4001. 8pm. £4. Scottish premiere of a film which debuted at last year‘s Sundanee Film Festival. Writer/director/producer Sarah Jacobson introduces this rites-of- passage tale about seventeen-year-old Mary Jane. an aspirational teenager living in a Midwestern town. Babes 1n Toyland and Mudhoney feature on the soundtrack and naughty old Jello Biafra has a cameo in the film.
I Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains CCA. Sauchiehall Street. 3320522. 8pm. £4. Cult hit directed by Lou Adler of The Rocky Horror Picture Show fame. Starring members ofThe Clash and The Sex Pistols. You lucky things.
I Discography: Sulk by The Associates Waterstone‘s. Sauchiehall Street. 332 9105. 6pm. Free. The ﬁrst in a series of talks which will take place over the six month stretch of this year‘s 10 Day Weekend in which writers. commentators and those involved will talk about a selection ofclassic albums from the last two decades. Simon Frith chairs this playback and discussion of The Associates' 5qu with contributions from former Associates Alan Rankine and Michael Dempsey. broadcaster Allan Campbell and Tom Doyle. the author of the Billy Mackenzie biography The Glamour Chase. See preview.
I The Delgados, Six By Seven and El Hombre Trajeado Mitchell Theatre. Granville Street. 287 4855. 7.30pm. £7. Tickets from the Ticket Centre. Candleriggs. 287 5511. Missing Records. Wellington Street. 400 9782. John Smiths. Byres Road. 334 2769 and The 13th Note Cafe. King Street. 553 1638. The Delgados will be sure to attract a substantial crowd for their first hometown gig in over a year. at which they'll be playing material from their warmly-received second album Peloton. Support comes in the shape of the intriguing shifty sounds of Six By Seven and local quirk merchants El Hombre Trajeado.
23 Jul-6 Aug 1998 THE USTSS