on 27 August 2013
This a real snippit from the underground punk movement in Belfast during the Seventies. I feel that the "Punk" movement was the changing of tides in the music industry and feel that its due for another one!
This beautifully presented black comedy takes a really good look back at this time and portrays it well. The main Character is played extremely well and anyone who loves music and shopped in independent music shops in Belfast in the past thirty years will know who Terry is.
Great sound track, and a great strap line.
"New York has the hair style, London has the jeans but Belfast has the reason"... something along those lines.
"When punk rock ruled over Ulster, nobody ever had more excitement and fun. Between the bombings and shootings, the religious hatred and the settling of old schools, punk gave everybody a chance to LIVE for one glorious moment."
Uncle Joe Strummer.
Punk Rock and Punk Rockers have always been misunderstood. Back during the original wave that began in 1976 it was thought punks wanted to kill the queen and burn down your villages, so even though some ill informed (re: ill educated) principals courted controversy, the spirit of punk rock, its ideals and reasons for being, got lost in the mix of the media frenzies and drug deaths et al. Many films and documentaries have been made over the years, some worthwhile, others not so, but all in an effort to either correct the misconceptions of punk rock, or invite interest into a genre of music that made waves that are still being felt today. Good Vibrations the movie is the embodiment of what it was really all about.
The story concerns how Terri Hooley (played by a superb Richard Dormer) believed that music could make a difference, and this even as a soul destroying Civil War raged out on the streets of Belfast. He opened a record shop and formed his own independent record label (the Good Vibrations of the title), and then one day he stumbled on a movement, punk kids who just didn't care about sectarianism, race, creed or colour, they united as one with a love of music, of music with attitude and no hidden agendas. It ticked every box of Hooley's world, forcing him to beg the question of where have these boys been all his life?
I would like to report a Civil War outside!
The 1970s backdrop of the Northern Ireland "Troubles" strikes all the right emotional chords, but the makers are never heavy handed, it's never over-killed. The key here is portraying a movement - and an individual - that refused to be cowed by the bombs and the bullets. In fact during one quite brilliant scene ignorance proves to be bliss. From personal experience I can say that as a British guy living in England I was vehemently told back in the late 1970s to not even think about buying a 7" single by one of the 'Oirish punk rebel rousers. I'm still flipping that same middle finger I flipped back then, today!
Teenage dreams so hard to beat.
Thankfully the film doesn't spend most of its time on what music fans know as the key Irish bands of the era. The Undertones were indebted to Hooley as much as they were the legendary (and much missed) John Peel, but this picture barely features The Undertones, or Stiff Little Fingers as it happens. The former are key, and provide some of Hooley's most memorable moments, in fact it's the crux of the genius and otherwise (family changes) of Hooley the man and the "businessman". Yet it's the lesser known bands of the time that come to the front and tell the story alongside Hooley, which even though this is a biography of sorts, is a wonderful touch and dare I say it? Very punk rock. It's as he says, they are all a part of Good Vibrations.
I saw the light.
What of Hooley the man, how he is portrayed here? Pic makes the effort to show he was hardly an ideal husband type, where the love of his life, Ruth (the lovely Jodie Whittaker making an under written character boom) is playing second fiddle to his musical passion. His relationship with his parents is only pinched, though just enough to make a point, while some of his dealings with the warring factions in his community come off as a bit fanciful. But these are forgivable sidesteps, for this is about the music lover and the movement he fought tooth and nail to get heard.
It was never about money, punks wanted it, needed it even, but the true spirit of punk shines bright in Good Vibrations, both musically and as a human interest story, making it essential viewing for anyone interested in the original wave of Punk Rock. 10/10
on 21 September 2013
Spine tingling.... That's all can say about the feeling I had when Richard Dormer spoke his first lines as Terri.... he had if down to a tee. Refreshing to see a movie come out of Northern Ireland that nods to the Troubles without dwelling on the period on the late 70s and early 80s when there was....a fantastic piece of work I look forward to more creativity from the Team that produced this little gem...
This tells part of the story of the Northern Irish music legend that is Terri Hooley. He grew up in Belfast at a time before the troubles and when that dark period came he found himself in the middle of people he considered to be friends, but now they divided themselves along religious lines and not on political, social and musical lines that had been so invigorating.
He though is one of life's optimists and so as the bombs go off and the sectarian violence becomes the norm on the ever emptying streets he wants to bring music to the benighted people of Belfast and what starts out as a venture into reggae, via his record shop, all gets turned around when one night he is drawn to a gig to see Rudi and the Outcasts playing to a packed house. He does what any sensible, red blooded male would do; he gets drunk, does some pogoing and then signs the band!
We then follow him on his ups and downs as he gets involved with launching The Undertones, his marital woes and being on the road as well as the financial problems, the music industries fickleness and the sheer enthusiasm of `the kids' for this new music. Along the way we get a load of laughs a few tears and an appearance by the greatest DJ of all time ever - John Peel.
I completely loved this; it is well acted, the period detail is really good - some of the wigs are a bit obvious -, but so what. Starring Richard Dormer as Hooley who has been in `Game of Thrones' and `My Boy Jack' - he puts in a fine performance helped along by the lovely Jodie Whitaker as Ruth his long suffering wife. Dylan Moran puts in a cameo too and great support from the likes of Adrian Dunbar (`My left foot' and `The crying game') who is massively under rated and always reliable and the brilliant Liam Cunningham (`Game of thrones' and `The wind that shakes the barley'). This is how I remember that part of punk and it is great to have some new life breathed back into some of these old songs. This is one that will give you more on subsequent viewings and I can absolutely recommend.
on 20 August 2013
Add it to the pantheon of great music movies, and great British movies - a film which manages to capture not just the essence of punk but - without being sanctimonious or didactic - what it must have meant to kids growing up in the brutal grimness of '70s Belfast. Saying which, it's actually a film full of joy and excitement - the bit when 'Teenage Kicks' finally gets played on Peel brought a tear to my eye, as did the bit when Terri - in many ways the holy fool - sold the rights to Teenage Kicks to Sire Records for £500, enough to get their van fixed. A triumphant movie and a triumphant life, recalling a time when commercial success wasn't the only yardstick of greatness. Loved it.
on 23 March 2014
He alerted me to this gem in his alternative Oscars list, otherwise I might have missed it. This film is just brilliant at capturing the emergence of punk in Belfast, perhaps inevitably as a reaction to the Troubles and the grim economic climate of Northern Ireland in the 70s and 80s. Of course there are points where the film goes for dramatic effect but it definitely, gloriously captured key moments, like first hearing and experiencing punk and the story of "Teenage Kicks". There was always something unique about punk in Northern Ireland but I never knew what or why - this film goes a long way to explaining that. The finale concert with the anarchic rendition of Sonny Bono's "Laugh At Me" is wonderful - I'd never thought of that pseudo hippy song as a punk number but it works wonderfully. I can't recommend this film enough.
on 6 February 2014
The History of punk rock comes from Belfat. Amazing film with a great soundtrack. This is a must for punk music fans!
on 4 June 2016
Don't "Laugh At Me" but this is a well made film that had all the makings of being a great one except it relied much too heavily on the make believe of one man's love and promotion of the (big) self.
Some facts to bear in mind when following the cleverly constituted fact meets fiction storyline....
No-one from Good Vibrations was in the recording studio with The Undertones.
The first time anyone from Good Vibrations actually heard the recording was when it was delivered to the shop, direct from EMI in Dublin. They had no idea want it sounded like (or knew it was a 4 track EP) until they opened the boxes that had just been delivered.
Good Vibrations issued Teenage Kicks EP but that was the only link The Undertones had with that organisation. There was no contract.
The Undertones posted out several promo copies. Undertone Mickey Bradley was the one who posted the record to John Peel at Radio 1
The actual Good Vibrations record was never touted around big time record companies in London. It was never rejected by anyone. To imply otherwise was absurd. Teenage Kicks EP was so good it promoted itself, especially after John Peel received his copy in the post. He loved it and played it (twice). After that historic occasion every the record company, music journalist & DJ were falling over themselves to get in on the action.
Whatever big time record company moved the quickest (in this case it was Sire) got The Undertones signed up, and under contract, plus they got the Teenage Kicks EP tapes from Good Vibrations for a pittance.
Sire remixed the original recordings and issued Teenage Kicks as a two track 7" for radio promotional purposes only.
To this day I have never heard anyone express dislike of Teenage Kicks, except in one of the many make believe sections in this film.
There was a Good Vibrations concert one evening in Belfast's Ulster Hall. It ended with a mini battle between some punk band members and a small number of so called security. One of the so called security got on stage, grabbed the mike and encouraged the audience to chant "SS RUC". Perfect material for any film. One thing is for sure - it certainly did not end in the harmonious way portrayed in this film. The scene in which John Peel arrived unexpectedly for the Ulster Hall concert was pure fantasy.
Good Vibrations' owner had a constant craving for self publicity and praise, and the mix of a little fact with a large serving of fantasy in this film helps deliver that his way in abundance.
Chaotic Good Vibrations did go into bankruptcy (owing different suppliers differing amounts ), re-opened as Good Vibes, went bankrupt again, re-opened with another name, closed down again, re-opened with another name, changed address, got burned down/out, re-opened once again before closing again, probably for ever,
The Big Time for the Big Ego (Self) continued on though with a book of full of fantasic tales, followed by up with his great work of fiction.
Incidentally, Davy Shannon (the man who single handedly produced the original Good Vibrations Teenage Kicks EP) lived two doors down from Chris Stewart. Chris was a member of Eire Apparent (whose one and only album was produced by Jimi Hendrix).
This 2012 film, directed by upcoming British film-makers Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn, covering the late 70s rise of Belfast punk/indie record store and label Good Vibrations is a vibrant, feelgood film covering (for me) a key component of one of the most important phases of 'musical revolution’ ever seen in the UK. That these inexperienced film-makers (with a paltry budget) have been able to convey with such stark realism the raw energy and enthusiasm of the emerging Northern Irish scene, against the oppressive backdrop of sectarian intimidation and violence, is nothing short of a major cinematic achievement and due in no small part to their choice of noted Northern Irish actor, Richard Dormer, in the lead as the movement’s inspiration, Terri Hooley, whose stubborn, unswerving determination is portrayed with great conviction (and ironic humour) here.
There have, of course, been numerous other attempts to capture the spirit of this period of UK music history – notably the likes of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee, Julian Temple’s The Great Rock n’ Roll Swindle and 1980’s Rude Boy – but (for me, at least) none that quite capture the honest authenticity oozing from the pores of Barros D’Sa and Leyburn’s film. And, although I’m sure some degree of familiarity with the music portrayed here (including by The Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers and the two 'formative’ bands, Rudi and The Outcasts) undoubtedly adds to the film’s appeal, its infectiously universal 'rags to riches’ (well, not quite) story should also endear the film to non-aficionados. Acting-wise, as well as Dormer’s star turn, the film assembles a virtual who’s who of Irish acting talent – including Liam Cunningham as the studio engineer stupefied by the brilliance of Teenage Kicks (in one of the highlight scenes), Adrian Dunbar as a gang member and Dylan Moran as a bar owner – as well as Brit Jodie Whittaker as Terri’s wife, Ruth (the pair’s alternately supportive and fractious relationship, perhaps understandably, taking something of a back seat to the film’s musical focus). There are many standout scenes – and clever use of archive documentary footage – some of the most powerful depicting Hooley standing up to the thugs (RUC included) looking to undermine his ‘dream’ and a superb moment where the man demonstrates his non-partisan attitude to a group of soldiers who have stopped Hooley’s tour-van.
As well as the film’s ‘innate’ music, there is also an evocative soundtrack, including music by The Small Faces, David Bowie, Suicide and Hank Williams (whose I Saw The Light is cleverly used as, in effect, Hooley’s mantra). There is also a magnificent closing rendition (at a fund-raising gig at the Belfast’s Ulster Hall) of Sonny Bono’s Laugh At Me, led by Hooley. It’s rousing stuff!
on 17 March 2015
A good film, with some interesting bits about the Belfast music scene of that time - how on earth anyone managed to do anything, I'll never know . . however, two things did annoy me.
All the punks look like Generation X from that period (not a typical punk look) they were just too good looking! It's like there's a punk casting school out there . . Billy Idol? You'll do . . Joe Strummer . . Get outta here!
And my other bugbear - the instruments - it always amazes me with 'rock' films that the appropriate instruments for the time are not in use. Where were the Hondo Les Pauls, the Wilson Fender lookalikes, the ancient and battered Vox's, rubbish Japanese copies and the detritus from secondhand shops? Where were the H&H Valve-sound combos, the 15th-hand Marshall PA systems utilised as amps, the God-awful, taxi-signal receiving fuzz boxes, the blubber wah's and electro-harmonix jack-ins?
The film would have been more authentic (and from this old musos view) far more enjoyable if someone had just taken the time to read some old copies of Beat Instrumental and Sound International . .
Over and out.