If you have any of the following on your iPod... Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Primal Scream, Teenage Fan Club and Super Furry Animals or Oasis then chances are you'd be very interested in the new documentary Upside Down: The Creation Records Story. The film, which premiered at the British Film Festival, charts the story behind the iconic record label and its eccentric founder and spiritual leader Alan McGee.
If I wasn’t so disorganised I would’ve charged my iPhone which was to double up as my notepad, and would’ve attempted (but no doubt failed) to come up with a film review as clever and as funny as the excellent efforts from fellow Saboteur Matt Harvey. Instead this ‘film review’ will get straight to the point and give you 10 reasons why you should go and see it...
1. This is essentially a music documentary and it helps that the music is brilliant (with the possible exception of Sugar), it also helps that the sound man has stuck the volume on max. You’ll inevitably find yourself tapping your foot as hit after hit belts out in crystal clear sound.
2. Alan McGee, apart from having a penchant for hats that are a bit small for him, is a genius. His interviews are the backbone of the whole story and are as honest and informative as they are funny. The Scot has a great story to tell and tells it very well - he had an idea, had a good time, make that a great time whilst doing it and gave some of the best bands of a generation a platform to produce amazing music.
3. The last time I saw Bobby Gillespie on a screen was the Glastonbury coverage a couple of years back when it’s safe to say he went off on one. The Bobby Gillespie on show here is an entirely different one, insightful and most of all caring, the bond between him and McGee a key component of the Creation story from the very start to the very end.
4. Noel Gallagher is well...Noel Gallagher. You know what you’re going to get forthright and revealing opinion laced with humour and there’s plenty of it. Also fans (myself included) of U2's Rattle and Hum no longer have to hide their affection for the album, turns out Noel was a fan. However as McGee notes if he’d know that prior to signing them he wouldn’t have gone through with it.
"McGee's story of dancing away coming up at a impromptu party at 7 in the morning bemusing passing commuters, then settling down to look at sales figures at 9 is a great illustration of an average morning at Creation."
5. Gruff Rhys from the Super Furry Animals and Howard ‘Mr Nice’ Marks team up to give their take on things. The kindred spirits almost look like father and son sat next to each other and when citing the link between the demise of Creation Records and Nostradamus Rhys provides the funniest moment of the film.
6. Big names aside its some of the testimonies of the lesser known faces that prove as revealing, co-founder Dick Green is portrayed as the glue that held the company together and is as integral to the story as McGee himself. This is no more evident than when Green has to take control when McGee ‘crashes’ into a nervous breakdown.
7. It’s all a matter of taste obviously but for every Ride there was a Swervedriver, for every Teenage Fan Club there was a Boo Radleys . That said they’ll obviously have their fans, the documentary isn’t just about the Gallaghers and the Gillespies, there are so many bands featured to give the complete picture. And if like me your knowledge of the earlier Creation Records bands is not as good as those in the latter period then be prepared to add the The Loft and The Weather Prophets to your music collection.
8. The archive footage of the chaotic office in Hackney gives an idea, albeit small, of the mayhem that ensured over the years. McGee's story of dancing away coming up at a impromptu party at 7 in the morning bemusing passing commuters, then settling down to look at sales figures at 9 is a great illustration of an average morning at Creation.
9. Knebworth was the peak of the Creation story but also the beginning of the end. As a 16 year old that attended the second night it was great to see footage of the John Squire assisted version of Champagne Supernova if only because at the time I saw and heard very little, despite being only halfway back – it was just too big. It was record breaking and those that attended can always say ‘I was there’ but Knebworth was overblown and over the top and the likes of McGee agree. Before you can say Be Here Now (which incidentally is not mentioned once in the film) it’s all downhill.
10. All good things must come to an end. The film reaches its conclusion with the major label Sony’s attempt to curb the excesses by gradually putting their guys in the position of power. Harking back to the true independent spirit that prompted the guys to start Creation in the first place McGee and Green agree enough is enough and shut the label down.
In short, the documentary is really very good and with plans to tour the film with post screening club nights, there really is no reason why you shouldn’t get involved.
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