Sunday, 16 May 2010

Oil City Confidential.

Julien Temple's last film in his trilogy of British music in the 1970’s is Oil City Confidential (2009). It focuses on the early days of pre-punk rock band Dr Feelgood who hailed from Canvey Island (Essex’s very own Mississippi Delta) in 1971. For the uninitiated the group were known for their high energy live performances of R&B material. There sound was centred on Wilko Johnson’s choppy guitar and amphetamine type stage antics. The lead vocalist was Lee Brilleaux, bass guitar John B Sparkes and the drummer was The Big Figure known to his mum as John Martin. This line up was at its peak in the mid 1970’s when their live album Stupidity (1976) reached number one in the UK Albums chart, they also had a top ten hit single in 1979 with Milk and Alcohol.

Temple’s documentary not only highlights the band but also does the same for the Canvey Island backdrop. Canvey, with its massive oil terminal, is a reclaimed island in the Thames estuary separated from the mainland of South Essex by a network of very muddy creeks. It lies below sea level and can be prone to flooding. (58 islanders died in the flood there in 1953). The documentary mainly relies on interviews with the band members; the most interesting and informative being the ones with the mighty Wilko it also intercuts with footage from old black and white crime movies to emphasis the very Britishness of Temple’s subject. A rousing and entertaining rockumentary, with some great archive band footage. As Phill Jupitus said ‘F***king brilliant. Absolutely essential viewing for any music fan’. Go buy the soundtrack!!!!

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