Directors: Roger Penny, Charlie Thomas
Special Treats Distribution
We open with Andy Partridge giving us one of those I’m not gonna give you a quote-quotes: “Rockumentaries, I really dislike them. They always have that lugubrious keyboard player from that prog rock group…”
Cue interview snippet from Rick Wakeman.
Just on 70 minutes later we’ll left, wide open, wondering if Partridge and the rest of the gang are getting ready to tease some anniversary reunion, getting ready to tread the boards one more time, or just bored enough to blow our minds with some studio-only hijinks.
Look, it’s nearly mockumentary – which is the case with almost any great rockumentary (and it’s true with most of the worst ones too) but XTC: This Is Pop gives us, the fan, the viewer, almost everything we want.
Partridge is funny and difficult and mad and wise. We get all of the stories from the band – and band members. Here was a group full of huge promise but they had difficulties at every turn. First the record label didn’t know what to do with them, then they didn’t know what to do with themselves, sometimes the fans didn’t even know what to do with them and then – certainly – the superstar rock-producer didn’t know how to work with them, or them him: Whole books have been written about the relationship – or non-relationship between Andy Partridge and Todd Rundgren. Several interviews too. A separate doc is required just on that very subject. But This Is Pop gives us the skinny and several other interludes, many far more charming. It also gives us a taste of the music – fabulous, proud, clever music.
Chuck in further talking heads via Clem Burke, Stewart Copeland even Harry Shearer (could you get a more obvious nod to Spinal Tap?) and you have all the makings of a great rock doc.
And this is that. A rock doc from – or at least about – a band far too clever to fall into such a trap. Even after setting it up in the intro…
A brilliant watch. It will send you back to a particular pile in your record collection, or off to a site, or store, or however it works/you work…
A must-watch for sure. Brilliant band. Great songs. Huge ideas. Grandiose idealism too. And it’s all here. Hypnotic. Plus other clichés abound!
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