TV Party - S

SNFU - Open Your Mouth And Say... MR. CHI PIG {MVD} Opening with a rather wasted, decidedly spiky Kendall Chinn filmed in 1983 who repeatedly fluffs his lines before cutting to the same man in 2008 who is still seemingly rather wasted but now resembles Cat Weasel with a Dee Dee Ramone attitude, it’s immediately clear that this biopic of Kendall Chinn - aka Mr. Chi Pig, vocalist in Canadian Punk legends, SNFU - is going to make gripping (albeit rather depressing in places) viewing.
Tracing Chinn’s past from his discovery of Punk via the SEX PISTOLS, we hear of his first band, LIVE SEX SHOWS, before his problems with mental instability occur via voices in his head. He states clearly he self-medicated these issues with a string of drugs - all this prior to the formation of SNFU. Once the band forms, the rough ride continues with Chinn’s spiraling addiction to alcohol, cracking his skull open at a gig that eventually lead to his loss of control and increased mental instability, and his eventual sacking from SNFU.
Life immediately after SNFU stabilized a bit with a move to Vancouver and 15 years free of alcohol; but that was countered by coming out about his sexuality and an addiction to Crystal Meth. His 1990 band, THE WONGS get a mention before SNFU reform for the Epitaph deal - only to have producer and BAD RELIGION guru Mr. Brett admitted to rehab on the second day of recording! The death of Chinn’s mother signalled a complete nervous breakdown and, ultimately, he became a street bum and suicidal, only to be saved by another SNFU reformation - or the resurrecting of the name at least as Chinn was the only original member.
Chinn’s interviews take place in a number of settings that do not detract from the dialogue’s continuity. Director, Sean Patrick Shaul, has done an admirable job in splicing the footage together - including vintage footage from the 80s - into a film where the narrative is honest but not sensationalist, down-beat yet respectful and, finally and surprisingly, inspiring. Chinn himself continually seems to draw, in my eyes at least, parallels with Dee Dee Ramone but where Dee Dee’s words were 90% hyperbole, Chinn comes over as genuine, unapologetic about his own failings and totally free of resentment that could so easily be fostered given his history. Chinn closes the film with the optimistic confession that he is now into, "Less self-destruction and more creation."
Additional interviews are provided by USHC luminaries such as Jello Biafra, Joe ‘Shithead’ Keithley, Chuck Dukowski, John Kastner, Shawn Stern and Brian Goble while Matt Fox (SHAI HULUD) and Luke Pabich (GOOD RIDDANCE) keep the SNFU influence current.
There are no extras which is a shame - it would be interesting to view some of the interviews in full. Another disappointment, although not Shaul’s fault, is that SNFU’s original guitarists, brother’s Brent and Marc Belke, declined to contribute.
Although this ends with Chinn being relatively upbeat, by the time the credits roll, I was left with a rather posthumous feeling. Chinn has undoubtedly lead a troubled but full life, one many may relate to but one that few have actually lived and this documentary lays bare the traits of one of Punk’s most complex personalities. (04.02.11)

SPECIALS, THE - 30th Anniversary Tour {Blink TV/MVD} One of the very first records I ever bought back in 1980 when I was just 11, was the ‘Too Much Too Young’ EP. I vaguely remember the SPECIALS playing the Ipswich Gaumont around that time too, but due to my tender years, my folks wouldn’t let me attend and I never did get to see the band live. Zoom forward something like 26 years, I’m in New Zealand and the band announces a reunion tour. The very night they play their only NZ show, I’m on a flight back to the UK! So I missed out once again - at least until this DVD appeared. I’d heard all about how good the reunion shows were so, writhing with envy, had consoled myself in the fact it wasn’t really the SPECIALS as founder and musical maestro Jerry Dammers abstained from participation.
Recorded live at Wolverhampton Civic in 2009 with a multi-camera crew, the opening bars of ‘Enjoy Yourself’ signalled the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up and not stop skanking until ‘You’re Wondering Now’ closed the gig. Highlights? ‘Do The Dog’ is an electrifying, bombastic set opener, ‘Gangsters’ had so much flesh-tingling subversion about it that it should be illegal, a hyper ‘Monkey Man’ that Neville Staple dedicated to the bouncers, the perfect segue from ‘Stereotypes’ into ‘Man At C&A’, and the majestic pairing of ‘A Message To You Rudy’ and ‘Do Nothing’. Oddly, it was ‘Too Much Too Young’ and ‘Ghost Town’ that didn’t quite convince; the former lacked the unbridled energy of the version on the EP mentioned above and the latter lacked the mesmerising chill of the single.
The band members are in stunning form too. Neville Staple never stops moving while Terry Hall drops some significant one-liners throughout, best of all prior to ‘Friday Night, Saturday Morning’ stating: "You can take the boy outta the West Midlands..." and "Gonna have a big Pina Colada and find a can of hairspray," before ‘Concrete Jungle’. And the man that has filled Dammers’ Dr. Martens? A noble effort on his part and even I'll confess, Dammers wasn’t really missed.
The actual editing of the footage is excellent. There’s so much movement from the multiple cameras (be it directly over drummer John Bradbury's head, in the crowd, or wedged between two monitors looking up at Hall to name but three) it’s breath-taking, while the sound is crystal clear and pumping.
The only extra is a 20 minute documentary that traces early rehearsals where, in the absence of Dammers, bassist Horace Panter appears to have taken over as ‘musical co-ordinator’ while Bradbury certainly comes over as the band’s personality. It progresses onto feature stage rehearsals, merchandise and a few fawning fans - both old and new.
Negatives? Of the actual gig, it’s almost faultless but I was disappointed that ‘Why?’ wasn’t played. The packaging is pretty poor; there’s no indication of where the gig was recorded (you have to wait for the credits for that) or who is in the band (kinda vital given there’s no Dammers).
As an artefact of the reformation shows, this will be a cherished reminder for those who attended the shows (lucky fuckers! Envious?? Moi?? Surely not!). For those poor souls who didn’t attend for whatever reason, it’s both a revelation and a kick in the guts! Reformed bands are never, ever supposed to be THIS good!! (31.01.11)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2009 including: