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This could have been good...and some of it was, but first of all,
someone should have told this filmmaker that there were more than five
bands involved with the Britpop scene, for heaven's sake! And before I
go further I must ask...what in the world has Massive Attack got to do
with anything? The filmmaker obviously is a big Massive Attack fan,
while the rest of us just do not care. Actually, I like Portishead but
the mention of them was out of place as well.
So, wouldn't you think a documentary about Britpop would be about the whole scene? There are a million bands that could have been mentioned. Where was Supergrass (except for the brief video clip)? Where were the Charlatans UK?
They showed us Louise Wenner talking a lot but never showed us Sleeper. And not once did anyone mention the word "Madchester." Oh, there was the slight nod to the Stone Roses but everyone knows that Britpop is the direct result of Madchester and to not mention that scene (or Shaun Ryder) is a crime.
Who cared what the guy from Loaded had to say? Shees! Could have gotten rid of that useless Damien Hirst as well. There was too much talk about New Labour and Thacherism...blah, blah, blah. Sure it was a factor but this is supposed to be about Brit-POP, not Brit-TAIN. Princess Di...totally irrelevant to the topic. This documentary about music needed a heck of a lot more MUSIC.
How can you talk to Jarvis Cocker and never mention that brilliant Michael Jackson incident?
So what did I like? First of all, it was a hoot to check back in with the Gallaghers since my mid-90s fanship has fallen off. Noel was a bit more articulate and bright then I remembered him, and Liam was a whole lot dumber. Boy, is that kid stupid. But that is what makes him a rock star. He is absolutely pure...a good looking ape that is dumb as a post...but it works. I loved the interview with Damon Albarn. He is the epitome of a really bright, talented guy who is completely fed-up with all the crap. He was so wonderfully disgusted with everything. And rightly so.
In the mid 1990's British music exploded within the country to produce
an unique scene called "Britpop". Against a backdrop of Tory
government, the energetic and youthful bands of Oasis, Blur, Feeder,
Pulp, Suede and so on dominated UK music sales and became inexorably
linked to the rise of the ambitious and youthful New Labour political
party, sweeping to power as led by Tony Blair. Featuring contributions
from many of those involved, this documentary looks back at the period,
the music and the politics.
Sold to me as a good movie by another user I was looking forward to seeing this film as I was a teenager in the 1990's and did love the music. I had hoped the documentary would capture the sense of time and place, act as an introduction to those not around and evoke memories from those that were a big ask perhaps but it has been done before with other subjects. On one level the film did work because it does have plenty of little nuggets and amusing moments courtesy of the main contributors. This is all well and good but it isn't enough to hold the whole subject together and the lack of cohesion is a bit of a problem. Many viewers have complained that many bands have been left out, which of course they have, but I didn't think that this was a major problem because the film was going for a general sweep and thus got the main players. However what was a problem for me was the film's failed attempts to link the music with the politics of the time. Of course their was a connection but it was nothing important or socially meaningful, it was merely Blair jumping on a bandwagon and being seen with the people of the day something he continues to do whatever the popular trend is.
It remedies this problem towards the end but for a big early section it is like a love letter to Blair's Britain. The film also fails to really get to grips with the whole sense of impact that the time had it does it to a degree but not as much as perhaps the subject deserved. The talking heads are interesting but only their contributions don't dovetail together that well instead each of them is worth seeing but they don't help the film move forward in fact the film very much just relies on the passage of time as its driving force, which was natural to a degree but it does get a bit "this happened, this happened then this happened" in a way.
It is still worth seeing though if you know the music and the period. It is funny and interesting and it is a shame that it couldn't have done more with the delivery to produce a more cohesive documentary. It does work reasonably well despite this but it is more an enjoyable jaunt down recent key moments in recent UK pop history rather than a comprehensive or insightful documentary.
John Dower's Live Forever documentary is a funny and brilliant insight
into the Britpop huge phenomenon which took place from the early to the
late nineties, a time when Britain wasn't "great"
it was cool!
Among other icons such as Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, Massive Attack's Del Naja or Sleeper's Louise Wener, we find the stars of the film: Oasis Gallagher brothers (in fact, the documentary is named after their probably biggest anthem ever) and Blur's Damon Albarn. Listening to their interviews, we clearly remember a time when the working-class heroes Liam and Noel Gallagher leaded the fierce rivalry with the middle-class bohemian Blur boys.
Far from being a one-sided documentary, Live Forever also reflects the political and social framework during the days of the Cool Britannia, and so show us how Blair's New Labour seized upon Britpop to bolster its own public image, leading it to its end.
A simply hilarious Liam Gallagher, an often puzzled Damon Albarn, an honest and always stylish Jarvis Coker and a witty and sarcastic Noel Gallagher, together with the superb soundtrack of the film, take the nostalgics back to the "madferit" days of not just a musical phenomenon but a way of life.
If you liked "24 Hour Party People", don't miss this masterpiece.
Liam Gallagher is a wonderful human being. You don't believe me? Just
watch Live Forever and witness the Manchunian ape-boy respond to the
interviewer calling him 'androgynous'. At first he's puzzled, but when
the word is explained to him he wonders whether he's being called a
girl. But then when this curious word is explained in even greater
detail, he admits that yes, he is indeed a pretty boy. "I take care of
me hair." What a guy.
But even more endearing than this is when Liam is asked what the characteristics of a great rock band are. "'aving it," he replies. And then after a lengthy pause he continues, "And by us 'aving it, hopefully some other people will learn how to 'ave it." And as he says this, he turns to the camera and does a sly 'Bang, bang' with his fingers. Liam, can I give you a hug?
But Liam isn't finished. Just when the dumb bastard couldn't get any more lovable he says that the S Club Juniors are: "Good little kids, man." I have no idea what goes on in that man's head, but the words he incoherently pukes out are pure gold.
Further evidence of Liam's genius is in his reaction to 80s pop stars. "You ain't got nowt to say. You don't look like rock stars. You look like dicks in tights." And then to cap everything off, during the end titles, he tells a bizarre story of how he fought his brother as a child and came home with broken limbs and a shotgun over his shoulder(?!?). That's life on Planet Liam, I guess.
But it says a lot for Britpop when a man of Liam's limited mental capacity became a cover boy. Here's a guy who can barely string a sentence together and who thought he was playing one night at Knebworth instead of two. It wasn't really a movement forged by insight and intelligence.
Having said that, Jarvis Cocker does pop up to prove that not everyone involved was brain dead. And Noel Gallagher is good value, too. And although he seems to take himself far too seriously, Damon Albarn (when he decides to stop fiddling with his ukulele) has some reasonably intelligent thoughts to share as well. But having said all that, was the music any good? Well, like any scene, some of it was and some of it wasn't.
Of the bands that are featured, I think the early Oasis stuff still holds up. It has tons of energy, and unlike Nirvana, there's no whining. But I have to say that I can't stand songs like 'Parklife' and 'Country House' (even 'Common People' is grating) they sound to me like novelty records. And of course, while idiots like James Brown (not THE James Brown) were talking about the glory days, I couldn't help but think of bands like Dodgy and Menswear.
But it's notable that almost all the more interesting bands of that era only get a brief mention. You hear a snatch of The Verve, you hear a few thoughts from 3D out of Massive Attack and Portishead is quickly referenced. And it's also worth noting that while various media figures talk about how big Oasis became, they never really were the biggest band in the world. If anything, Radiohead were bigger (they were the only British band of the era to crack the States). However, Radiohead only get a brief mention. (It's probably to their credit that they're never really associated with 'Britpop'.)
And another band that only gets a brief mention is The Stone Roses; you'd think 'The Second Coming' never happened, even though everything else in the film pales in comparison. But thankfully the Roses ignored Britpop and produced a record that had more in common with Led Zeppelin than The Beatles, thus ensuring that music critics quickly wrote it off. But the band's influence is mentioned at the beginning of the film when Spike Island is referenced. And it's a shame that they weren't the ones to make it big. They were smarter than Oasis, they wrote better songs and they were better musicians. Indeed, Oasis are just Stone Roses Lite. I mean, as cocky Liam and Noel are, beneath it all they're quite respectable. Sure they swear a lot, but they constantly doff their cap at their favourite bands, appear on chat shows and play the game. The Roses on the other hand were little bastards. Their arrogance was through the roof. But they also had integrity. They certainly wouldn't have turned up at Downing Street and they certainly wouldn't have chugged Tony Blair's genitals at The Brits.
And it's the whole sorry episode of Noel going to visit the new Prime Minister that shows how empty the Britpop movement was. It wasn't about rebellion, it was about new rock stars acting like old rock stars; as dangerous and rebellious as they want to be, they also want to be part of the establishment. And it was truly sickening to see Noel's mug on the New Labour magazine proclaiming that a speech Tony Blair gave made him cry. These were people we worshipped at the time and they were f***wits! (Just as stupidly, Damon Albarn says he once thought that New Labour were actually interested in what he had to say.)
But although Britpop was a superficial movement (we see lots of shots of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Jo Guest and Loaded Magazine, and people like Damien Hurst are interviewed wow, those were certainly halcyon days!) and the music wasn't as good as we all remember, it at least gave us Liam Gallagher, a man who is as dumb and blindly confident as all good rock stars should be. He certainly beats Chris 'Fair Trade' Martin and Tom 'Touchy-Feely Fat Boy' Chaplin.
First off let me say that Theo Robertson makes a crucially key point in his
While Britpop was a great period for music in the UK, they sure as hell weren't exporting much of it to the US. Bush, The Spice Girls, Elton John, and Radiohead. That's pretty much it. One of the Elastica songs got some minor air time in '95, and Oasis had some so-so hits with Wonderwall and a couple others...but that's it.
As for Blur? Ha. The only Blur song known by the average American is "Song. 2" and that hardly fits into the Britpop mold.
Pulp, Suede, Gene, the Manics, Supergrass...forget it. Anglophiles and transplants were the only people in the US celebrating the Britpop phenomenon at the time.
I even remember listening to a couple of "face-offs" on 91X (influential modern rock station in San Diego) in the summer of '95. This is where the DJ plays two new songs, and callers vote on which is their favorite. The winning song then goes temporarily into rotation.
Anyhow, the two songs I remember being featured were "Common People" by Pulp and "Country House" by Blur. Both songs got obliterated (one by, I believe, a White Zombie song and I can't remember the other). Both actually had listeners calling in and saying how much they hated them and how cheesy and British they sounded.
Just for the record, I called in a voted for both. For "Common People" I think the DJ said something like, "Oh, you're the first for that one."
The 80's on the other hand, were HUGE for British music. Whether it was Duran Duran or The Cure, the early and mid-80's were easily on par with the British invasion of the 60's as far as records sales and popularity goes.
With that said, I was lucky enough to live in London from January '95 through May '95 and if you were IN Britain, well, it was pretty cool. The movie nicely encapsulates the sense of excitement happening in the UK at the time. Every week it seemed like the NME had either Brett Anderson, Damon Albarn or the Gallaghers on the cover (although Richie James of the Manic Street Preachers, who had just gone missing, was probably the second biggest story next to the "Britpop thing").
I personally loved the music...just about all of it...but that's also because I really dig British culture. And that's really what I think Britpop was all about - Brits celebrating being British in their music for the first time (in a mass way, anyway).
The guy from Massive Attack makes a good comment early on in the film which was not only insightful, but also tied his band in with the rest. Essentially he said that prior to the Britpop era, most big name British bands adopted a certain Americanized sound...in most cases with their voices and in their lyrics. He hated doing that and, like Jarvis and Damon and Justine and all the others, instead celebrated being British in his music.
And that, really, is what makes Britpop "Britpop" - it's British Pop music. It's by, about, and for Brits.
Americans didn't get it. Then again, it wasn't for them.
I thought that Live Forever was an excellent documentary capturing the phenomenon of the Britpop passage. It is worth noting that I think that even if you didn't get the whole Britpop experience it is still worth watching to try and understand exactly what the period of time tried to encapsulate. Dragging Britain from a period of being totally dormant, to generating great music and creating an aura of genuine invincibility.
Live Forever features the obvious candidates that are Oasis and Blur as the battle for number one captured a nation, whilst also giving an analysis of movie culture and the feel good factor that took over Britain during those 2/3 years. Massive Attack were also undoubtedly another factor in the way that Britain seemed to transcend itself to another plain, and although many will be put off by some of the language used it is worth remembering that the laddish behaviour of that period was a factor that boosted the industry and re-ignited interest in British pop/rock.
The documentary also takes perspectives from a political sense whilst also highlighting perhaps a more sinister undercurrent to Britpop and the way it was used by stragglers and then dumped once the period was over. Whatever your perspective, it made me feel alive and was more than happy to re-visit that golden few years where the music was on another level and the country was swept with the feel good factor. Nirvana was the catalyst for the whole period that saw the change, and I was more than happy to re-visit Cobain's angst ridden voice, Oasis' brilliance and the competition that was Blur.
There`s a saying that " If you don`t read newspapers you`re uninformed. If
you do read newspapers you`re misinformed " and that`s the problem I had
with LIVE FOREVER , if you`re uninformed about Britpop you`ll be misinformed
if you use this as your starting point , dangerously misinformed . The very
first caption is from Alistair Campbell needs clarifying : yes in 1996-97
Britain was exporting music ( To the USA )again but this was only down to a
select handful of artists namely The Spice Girls , Bush , Elton John , The
Prodigy and Radiohead and in no way was this period a golden age for British
record exports . Noel Gallagher follows this caption by saying " The
eighties were f*** all " - NO THEY WEREN`T . In terms of record sales they
were the golden age of British musical export . One week in July 1985 had
eight of the top ten acts in the US billboard charts by Brits while 40% of
the billboard 100 were by British artists . At the Band Aid concert held the
same month each and every act at the London concert was from the British
Isles while over 30% of the acts appearing at the JFK stadium were Brits . "
The 80s were f*** all " ? I don`t think so Noel
The other thing I disliked about this documentary is it`s political bais towards Tony Blair`s New Labour government where we`re force fed Peter Mandelson`s opinions of Mr Blair`s standard of guitar playing ! Completely superflous in my opinion , though there is a bit of irony in all this when Noel Gallagher ( Yes him again ) tells us Oasis songs sum up the 1990s . Yeah well I think Heartland by The The ( Written in 1986 ) sums up Tony Blair`s New Labour government and life in modern Britain perfectly , at least compared to the drinking songs Oasis released , and make no mistake that`s all they are - drinking songs
Despite falling international sales British music in the mid to late 90s was far superiour to ten years earlier , but let me just repeat very very few British bands sold any records in the USA at this time which means LIVE FOREVER works only as a nostalgia piece with a good soundrack and not as a historical or cultural document since it leads us to believe Britain was the centre of the musical , cultural and political universe which sadly it isn`t and probably never will be again
Why was this film made? 'Britpop', as a phenomenon (if it was that)
less then a decade ago. Indeed, it hadn't even started a decade ago
according to this film. At least some time should have been given to see
history remembered certain events, rather than embellishing them almost as
soon as they've occurred.
Why would anyone would want to see or hear the views of 'wonderwall', a
shockingly witless oasis tribute band, when the film can afford more
insightful perspectives of Jarvis or even Noel?
Damon does himself no favours in this documentary. as the frontman of
one of the greatest pop bands we've had in the last 20 years, he tries to
come across too much as a social commenatator, rather than the purveyor of
just simply great pop songs. His refusal to comment on certain events
riles the viewer, and his self-importance is rightly satirised in the
closing sequence as we see him losing himself as he plucks away at a
Noel, however, is the main source of interest, and his brother provides
humour and arrogance which made oasis so exciting in the first
Louise Wener is perhaps the most articulate of the lot, the frontwoman of
sleeper-turned-author retains a sense of keeping her feet on the ground.
Although some of the music is indeed brilliant and some events were as equally exciting (common people came at a perfect time, and pulp heroically headlined glastonbury at the last minute), the inclusion of massive attack (although my favourite group) just furrowed my brow - why include them and not radiohead, not the spice girls? Radiohead in particular, who have gone on to arguably greater success than oasis. maybe they had a few problems getting interviews with the actually relevant people of the time?
There are too few interviewees for this to be a broad essay on the scene in the mid '90's (maybe this is why they had to include Wonderwall?). whereas 24 Hour Party People managed to entertain, excite and sympathise with some of the absurdities and fickleness of the music world, this film fails to be a worthwhile exercise in anything other than over-glorifying a period which has effectively only just ended.
Although as i've said, some of the music is great...
Hilarious is what this often is, and often enough to make it good. The Wikipedia article on it complains that Radiohead and the Verve aren't given much coverage, but really I don't think they had much to do with the aspects of Britpop that are dealt with in the film, indeed the aspects that make Britpop interesting to documentarians, and are therefore the reason this movie exists. Had they been interviewed, I can't imagine Thom Yorke or Richard Ashcroft having much to say about the subject beyond "We never really considered ourselves part of Britpop, and I don't think many other people did either," which would be pretty much right. What's good in this movie? Noel Gallagher sitting on a throne talking about being working class; Jarvis Cocker doing an imitation of a person on cocaine; Liam Gallagher responding to questions about his supposed androgyny ("What, so I'm a bird?") Hilarious.
This documentary about Brit Pop of the 1990s could have been great. As
I was a teenager in the 1990s it felt like the next big thing had
happened. It felt like our Sex Pistols. But this is no Filth and the
All the way threw it is made out like the whole thing only started because of the Stone Roses forgetting other important bands like the Happy Mondays.
It also misses out great moments from the time such as Noel Gallagher saying that he hoped Damon Albarn died of AIDS and other such classics.
There are some great moments along the way and some funny. Mostly all with the Gallaghers. The sad moment when Robbie Williams started making music that sounded like Oasis and Noels love of S Club Juniors.
But you don't feel like you are transported back to the 90s like you were the 70s in the Filth and the Fury.
Flawed but funny and occasionally interesting.
PS Listen for Damon Albarn's accent as it goes from Cockney to middle class and back again.
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