Featuring: Red Saunders; Roger Huddle; Kate Webb; The Clash; Steel Pulse; Tom Robinson; Poly Styrene; Sham 69; Alien Kulture
For Fans Of: Pick it Up Ska In the 90’s, Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, The Decline Of Western Civilization, and Punk’s Not Dead CPRA Rating: 9.5
In the age of the Trump administration we have seen a meteoric rise in facism and systematic racism. It has been there all along, but it was lurking, sure to peek it’s ugly head again. In Rubika Shah’s new movie, “White Riot”, 1970’s England was a breeding ground for a fascist and racist movement called the “National Front”. The economy was bad causing many of the youth to go without work.
Many popular music acts at the time showed their support for the “NF”, such as Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, and yes even David Bowie. A movement was started by a punk zine called “TempoRaRy Hoarding”. The magazine was a complete DIY project. The magazine was used as a political tool to combat the “NF” members such as Enoch Powell. The magazine also interviewed bands like Sham 69, The Clash, and Steel Pulse. Out of Temporary Hoarding, the movement Rock Against Racism was born. I absolutely loved this movie.
Here are a few things I loved about the movie.
The inspiration for Temporary Hoarding and Rock Against Racism was England’s economy, and a right wing fascist movement called, The National Front. The National Front was inspiring youths to go out and commit acts of hate.
I had heard that Eric Clapton was in favor of the National Front, but I never looked into it. I think people want to shove this under the rug. I no longer hold him with the respect I once did. I also had no clue that other mainstream artists from England at the time held Fascist/and Nationalistic views. David Bowie s also mentioned,
The archival footage is amazing. Kate Webb’s story details how Temporary Hoarding created the zine, and distributed. The DIY element still survives today and I feel Temporary Hoarding was a major inspiration into today’s punk rock culture.
Seeing The Clash and Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69 performing “White Riot” to a crowd of 100,000 supporters at the Rock Against Racism Carnival was amazing. Jimmy Pursey showing his support for RAR after a riot by National Front Kids was pretty cool.
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“White Riot” by Rubika Shah is by far one of the most profound punk documentaries of the 21rst century. No time is more important than now to embrace the grassroots element of Temporary Hoardings and the Rock Against Racism Movement. We MUST continue the fight against fascism and racism, in the alley and in the voting booth. For information about making your vote count go here, https://www.headcount.org/state/. You can watch “White Riot” here, https://www.filmmovement.com/white-riot
The film features exclusive interviews with members of:
The Aquabats • Big D and the Kids Table • Bim Skala Bim • Blink-182 • Bomb the Music Industry! • Buck-O-Nine • Catch 22 • Cherry Poppin’ Daddies • Dance Hall Crashers • Desorden Publico • Fishbone • Five Iron Frenzy • Goldfinger • The Goodwin Club • Hepcat • The Hippos • The Impossibles • Inspector • The Interrupters • Jump With Joey • Kemuri • King Apparatus • La Resistencia • Less Than Jake • Let’s Go Bowling • The Mad Caddies • Maldita Vecindad • Mephiskapheles • The Mighty Mighty Bosstones • MU330 • Mustard Plug • My Superhero • New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble • No Doubt • The Nuckle Brothers • the O.C. Supertones • Oingo Boingo • The Pietasters • Pilfers • The Porkers • Reel Big Fish • Rx Bandits • Save Ferris • The Selecter • Skankin’ Pickle • The Skatalites • The Slackers • Smashmouth • The Specials • Spring Heeled Jack • Starpool • Streetlight Manifesto • Sublime • Suburban Legends • The Suicide Machines • The Toasters • Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra • Voodoo Glow Skulls • and a bunch of other super rad ska related people!
Hey guys Skabones with CPRA here. Happy Holidays to everyone out there. Recently we received an advanced copy of Pick It Up Ska In the 90’s. Personally, I couldn’t help myself and dove in immediately. This film was directed by Tayloy Morden. Be sure to check out some of Taylor’s other movies such as, The Pick Up , The Last Blockbuster, Here’s to Life: The Story of The Refreshments, Gotcha. We reached out to Taylor, so be sure to read his thoughts on the film below.
So before I go into more of the movie, Let’s talk more about your mom, I mean me Skabones. I grew up when Reagan was dropping bombs and Thatcher was invading the Falklands. Ska bands like English Beat, Madness, and The Specials were wrecking the UK charts. Given I’m only 42 now I was only about 5 or 6 years old then. So let’s jump back to the 90’s. I was an angry kid, hated my dad, we all hated our parents back then. As you can tell from my senior photo I was a real, “rebel”.
My friends and I were constantly going to shows around Denver. We even got tear gassed at the Propagandhi riot. For me personally I felt I belonged, but also that I didn’t belong. That something was missing for me. I was that square peg that never fits into the circle. I was a “Weird Kid”. So when a friend handed me a copy of “The Pietasters” by The Pietasters around 1994. Something in me finally clicked. I restarted my love for ska! As time progressed, my friends and I started going to more Ska shows like, Denver’s Five Iron Frenzy, Fishbone, Save Ferris, and many more.
So let’s actually get into the movie. When the film opens I felt this immediate ocean of nostalgia come over me. As Tim Armstrong began his narration of the film I felt thrusted back into the 90’s. Someone hit me with a Slap bracelet! The list of media and bands in this film is insane. From legendary DJ’s such as Tazy Phillips to bands you might have thought disappeared. They are some great concepts and schools of thought discussed in the film such as How do you define ska? Have you ever tried to explain ska to someone? Did you know the classic black and white checkered style was not about racial unity? Out of nowhere the weird kids had a place to go and best of all it wasn’t a fashion parade. And suddenly there were trumpets in punk rock.
One of my favorite discussions is Did Kurt Cobain’s death kick off the 3rd Wave of Ska? If you think about it Cobain’s death marked the end of grunge and the start of something new. I’d really love to sit down some time with legendary KROQ DJ Tazy Phillips and asks just why was Sublime so hard to work worth? I can only guess it was Bradley’s addiction or other issues? I’ve watched this movie 3 times now and still find things I missed the first time around. Such as did you know skapunk embraced punk’s DIY boots on the ground self promotion? There was a war between the West coast Vs East Coast ska? Wait wut? As the 3rd wave rose in popularity bands started having more control over their shows such as Skank N Pickle refusing to play non all ages shows
Another concept discussed, How does a ska band survive on the road? You have 5-10 members who have to sit practically on top of each other in the van. I found this part of the movie hilarious! Another personal favorite part of the movie is when gender was discussed and how female members were treated differently from their male counterparts. With venues sometimes thinking they were girlfriends, groupies, or wives of band members. Five Iron Frenzy’s -Leanor Inez Ortega Till discusses this issue in detail. Her section in the movie is a personal favorite. I scored an awesome interview with Leanor which you can read below. Guys I’m talking to you! It may be almost 2020 we may be getting better about inclusion, but newsflash, we are not there yet!
As I said before the lists of bands and media personalities in this movie is incredible. Some of my favorite moments are with Angelo Moore, Ben Carr, Coolie from Pilfers, Moniqe Powell and Mike Park. Oh and Aaron Barret from Reel Big Fish, stays true to his name as over confident sell out. I guess hes’s the Aaron we all know. Haha! As the movie nears the end, the downfall and over market saturation of the 3rd wave are mentioned. Soon Emo and EDM began to take it’s place. The popularity here in the states may have fallen, but 3rd Wave continues to thrive in other countries.
Overall I give Pick It Up – Ska In the 90’s a 9.5 out of 10. This movie is a perfected tribute to ska and in particular to the third wave. The little things you didn’t know, made a huge impact, not only in the ska scene, but the music industry in general. The only downside to the movie is no Op Ivy interview, but it’s really the least of my concerns.
Ska will never die, it will continue to evolve from it’s early Jamaican roots. So pick it up now at www.skamovie.com, via download, and now on DVD and Blu-ray! So let us know down in the comments below your best memory from the 3rd Wave! If you think Ska is dead, read more here, https://coloradopunkrockarmy.com/category/ska/
Morden: Pick It Up! was the biggest project for me in terms of scope, there are over 80 bands featured in the movie, and we filmed in 4 countries over the course of a year and a half. It was also a very personal project for me. I’ve played trumpet in ska bands for over 20 years now and this music has been a huge part of my life. Getting to talk with all the bands I’ve been a fan of for most of my life about the music that means so much to all of us has been an amazing experience. In a way I got to tell a part of my own life story with the help of some of my all time favorite bands.
CPRA: What was the most difficult part in directing this movie?
Morden: There were a lot of challenges along the way, but one of the hardest parts was trying to clear so many songs for the soundtrack, there’s a ton of music in the movie and for every song you hear there are a lot of hoops to jump through. The other difficulties were things like scheduling the interviews around the availability of touring bands and digitizing huge piles of VHS tapes and scanning hundreds of photos, then trying to keep track of all the footage and archival materials and put together a story out of all of it.
CPRA: Was there at any moment you felt it was just too hard to make the movie and what pushed you to overcome if so?
Morden: Somewhere, about half way through editing, we had a 5 and a half hour long rough cut of the movie… I wasn’t really sure how to get past that stage and down to something that people could actually watch. The main thing that kept us going on this project and helped us overcome obstacles like that was the support of the ska community! The bands and the fans have been a huge help in motivating us to to try and make the movie as comprehensive, fun, and informative as we could.
CPRA: We know you can’t really play favorites with any scenes. However; what is one scene that really makes you nostalgic for making the film?
Morden: Not sure if you’re referring to scenes in the movie, or local music scenes… in the movie, there’s a part titled: the horn section that means a lot to me, as a horn player, that part is really autobiographical and I feel like that’s the kind of thing that maybe another film maker would not have included. If you mean music scenes, that’s a tough one, since we learned so much about so many ska scenes making the movie, and our local scene in Eugene Oregon doesn’t really feature in the film, I’d have to say that the stuff about the Japanese ska scene is my favorite.
CPRA: What advice do you have for independent filmmakers trying to get their names out there?
Morden: I’m not sure I’m in any position to give advice, but as an independent filmmaker, I really believe in the DIY work ethic that it often takes to get anything done. That often means long hours and difficult obstacles to overcome. So the advice I would have is: choose topics that you really care about. You’re going to be stuck working on a movie, especially a documentary, for years. So if you aren’t really invested in the subject matter that can get tedious. But as the cat hanging from the tree says ‘hang in there’.
CPRA: Thanks Taylor that’s some great information!