Monday, December 5, 2011
The Crystallised Banana Show
I suppose I should have enjoyed the Anvil film a lot more than I did. After all, heavy metal documentaries are usually catnip to me, even though they tend to cover the same ground (Birmingham ...blah blah .... heavy industry ... blah blah ...Born to be Wild ... blah blah) and have the same old talking heads with the leaky memories. I'll sit and watch them all night. So why didn't I like the Anvil film?
Well first of all, the film suffers from that common ailment that we can call "Swollen Opinions". Now I remember Anvil back in the 80s, when they were seen as a silly bunch of chancers from Canada who would pose for photos with a vibrator (or as Kerrang! put it: "erm, a crystallised banana"). However, according to the film, they were one of the time's most influential bands who somehow unjustly missed out on stardom. So we saw an old copy of Kerrang with them on the cover, even though back then Kerrang would put pretty much anybody on the cover, such as Aldo Nova, Baron Rojo and Budgie. We had Malcolm Dome go on about how "heavy" they were, and we got endorsements from folk like Lemmy, Scott Ian, Lars Ulrich and Slash. In fact we got to hear more people talking about their music than the music itself, and when you heard the music you realised why.
However, the other reason I didn't warm to the film may just be a consequence of me getting older. The "plot" of the documentary involves Lips raising 13,000 pounds from his sister to finance recording professionally their new album (their 13th) which they then hawk (unsuccessfully) around major record labels. We're meant to see this as showing that they have a Never Say Die spirit and are fully dedicated to living the Rock & Roll Dream. But I just saw it as desperation, a last Hail Mary from a bunch of 50-something musicians in denial who can't accept that their time has past. The younger me would probably have admired that dedication. The older me felt sorry for the sister.
Edit: I've realised that my friend Bright Ambassador also wrote a (much better) post about the film, and moreover, unlike me, wrote about the damn thing when it came out. You can read it here.