Previously at the ICA - Films

still: Oil City Confidential

Oil City Confidential

20 Oct 2009

Pub rock is often derided as a movement that was in the thrall of rhythm and blues traditions and 'proper' musicianship, at best an unfashionable precursor to punk, devoid of the DIY attitude and the year-zero rhetoric. Yet both movements shared contempt for the mainstream, were reacting against the prog-rock sounds that dominated the era, and a number of punk's prime movers were inspired by or graduated from the pub rock scene. Julien Temple's latest conceptual rock documentary focuses on Dr Feelgood, who came from the 'Thames Delta', Canvey Island, and puts the case for Lee Brilleaux, Wilko Johnson, the Big Figure and Sparko as 'four estuarine John-the-Baptists to Johnny Rotten's anti-Christ'. What emerges is the great, and deeply moving, rock'n'roll history of one of Britain's finest and unfairly overlooked bands, with Canvey, a reclaimed island in the Thames estuary just off the Essex coast, lying entirely below sea level and dominated by the petrochemical industry, central to it. Enlightening interviews with band members and contemporaries are complemented by some fantastic archive footage, which, at the very least, confirms Brilleaux and Johnson as two of rock's great showmen, and justifies Dr Feelgood's reputation as an incredible live act.

Julien Temple, UK, 2009, 106min

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