herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Rock'n'Roll on the silver screen

With his two previous books, This is Uncool and Fear of Music, Garry Mulholland certainly hit the spot with the argumentative, list-obsessed trainspotter element among music fanatics [Hmmh, anyone we know George? - Ed] by listing, respectively, 'The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk and Disco' and 'The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk and Disco'. Both were written with the passion of the true fan and now Mulholland has decided to merge his musical interests with his other chief obsession, the movies, for another fascinating read.

Subtitled 'Fifty Years of Rock'n'Roll Movies', Popcorn details 100 of the best -- and worst -- examples where the cultures of cinema and Rock'n'Roll met headlong. In his introduction Mulholland defines a rock movie as one "made after the birth of Rock'n'Roll as a mainstream genre in 1955. This includes movies about, or inspired by soul, reggae, punk, disco, hip-hop, dance music and forms of folk-roots music that cross over into the pop mainstream".

Written in the form of easily digestible four to six-page passages the book divides the subject by decade, which means that we go from the cheesy exploitation of The Girl Can't Help It right up to the wonderful Anvil: The Story of Anvil and hit pretty much every point in between.

As incisive and passionate about film as he is about music, Mulholland's essays are a joy to read. Never slow to praise the unfashionable -- Footloose and Grease -- and skewer the revered -- The Doors, Ray, Purple Rain and Head -- Popcorn had me both nodding my head wildly with approval, particularly with regard to his love of the gritty early 70s British movies That'll Be the Day, Stardust and Slade in Flame, and occasionally groaning 'Ah come on!' (a five-star review for the Russ Meyer movie Beyond the Valley of the Dolls), which is only as it should be.

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