TV Party - C

COCKNEY REJECTS - East End Babylon {Cadiz} Well, I would never have thought that when the REJECTS first came on my horizon, some 35 years ago (doing ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ on Top Of The Pops no less!), I’d be sitting down to watch a documentary about the life of the band and its founding brothers. In fact, even five years ago when I listened to ‘Flares and Slippers’ again for the umpteenth time, I never considered I’d be watching a documentary - let alone one as good as this. But here we have it, a documentary spanning almost two hours on the one of the most riotous sounds of the early 80s Punk scene and one of the formative bands of the Oi! movement.
It all kicks off with an introduction of old and new stills before moving onto a collage of old and more recent footage. Given the importance of London’s East End on the band’s very nucleus, it was pleasing to see a great historical piece on the area.
From there, it morphs into a quality account of brothers Jeff Turner and Micky Geggus and the band’s formation. We get interviews with both brothers, momma Geggus, a look at football violence in the 1930s, a changing East End and boxing. Of the more interesting stories told are how they spent the EMI advance on fireworks and steel-capped Doc Martins, and why they got banned from Top Of The Pops following the aforementioned performance.
Given the confrontational attitude of the band and it being, at the time, the definitive band of the Skinhead/ Oi scene, it’s unsurprising the story has a darker side. We hear of some bozo football violence (and, alarmingly, how certain characters still revel in aspects of that), National Front issues that included a stitch-up piece done on TV Eye that depicted the band as one of the British Movement champions, and a riot at Birmingham’s Cedar Club that was ‘inspired’ by the band’s love of West Ham United as they were attacked and out-numbered by a number of Brummies. This in turn lead to a GBH conviction for Geggus.
The band’s shift into Metal territory is thankfully (but also disappointingly) over looked. Given the band’s current reformation wth RED ALERT’s Tony Van Frater on bass, I would’ve liked a bit more coverage on those dark years and what the brothers think of those records now - and why some of the songs ain't in the current set list.
The disc is laden with about 90 minutes of extras including Momma Geggus giving us some holiday memories of Canvey Island complete with vintage footage, tour memories including supporting SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS at the Electric Ballroom, a look at the band’s spiritual home The Bridgehouse Arms, Jeff doing a spoken word piece at the West Ham Supporters Club, a promo for ‘Silvertown’ and, most impressively, a 2010 solo acoustic set at The Bridgehouse that includes a number of songs from ‘The Power And The Glory’ album that work really well. What’s more, this comes wrapped in a very nice cardboard sleeve and includes a 12 page booklet loaded with stills of the East End and various quotes from the film.
Director, Richard England, has put together a really informative, entertaining and genuine documentary here. He doesn’t pull away from the slightly more controversial parts (a number of segments still suggest an undercurrent of suppressed violence from certain parties) and allows those to speak at length but without letting them ramble on mundanely. His editting is sharp and holds the attention and, whatever you think of the band, this is a highly recommended documentary. Just the historical footage and information about the East End is captivating while the analysis of the band is right up there with any of the renowned documentaries of the music pantheon.
If the words, "Freedom? There ain’t no fucking freedom," bring back memories of a song called ‘Police Car’, then this is required viewing. (19.08.15)

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