Saturday, February 06, 2010


It was Paul from The Dirty Water club who first told me about this ridiculous movie Gonks Go Beat. Paul is a 60's garage deejay / impresario extraordinaire. He's one of those guys, kind of like my pal Dave Cruse, who was born with record collector's luck. Paul would tell stories like finding an original copy of The Sonics "Psycho" 45 for less than a dollar - or maybe 50p, since he's from over there. And it seemed like he got half of his stuff from 'boot sales.' That's basically the British version of a flea market - the boot meaning car boot, or trunk, where folks sell their old stuff out of. Anyway, Paul described the movie as completely inane with some cool musical moments: It's got a sort of Romeo and Juliet premise with the inhabitants of 'Beat Island' and 'Ballad Island' as the two feuding sides. That means you have to suffer through some bad crooning and folky bits to get to the raunchy rock and roll. There's a really cool scene with a groovy instrumental (something that would fit on one of those Instro-Hipsters A Go Go comps) as these cats drive down an open road in bad ass roadsters like a Spitfire 4, an Austin-Healey 3000Z, a Shelby Cobra, etc. My brother the car nut would dig it even more than I do. That video unfortunately is not available on the web (nary an image even). But here are a couple of those cars:
And we DO have this swinging number by the Graham Bond Organization from GONKS:

Of course my favorite scene in the whole stupid movie is also not readily available to post as a video here. That would be the song "Love is a Funny Thing" by the cheekily named The Long and The Short. Like the Bond Organization, the band simply plays the tune on the beach. It's a tough, uptempo beat number, with nice twangy guitar. You know, sort of like one of those fast Beatles songs, only with balls. The Nashville Teens also make a welcome appearance towards the end of this silly bit of pop melodrama. Remember, the Teens were the incredible backing band on the amazing Live at the Star Club album by Jerry Lee Lewis. And while we're talking about U.S. rockers backed by crazed local European acts, check out Gene Vincent on Belgian TV backed by The Sunlights:

Gonks, by the way, refers to the alien race that comes down to observe the shenanigans of the beats and the balladeers. Or something like that. What reminded me of Gonks, and prompted this post, was the comment from the Master of Ivanlandia on my last post. Something about Cliff Richard in puppet form singing a more rocking tune in Thunderbird's are Go. Without further ado:

I went to England (the first time) in 1994. We had some downtime in London and I went on my own to The Museum of the Moving Image (since closed). It was in fact similar to the MOMI in Queens. One of the most memorable items on display were original models and puppets from Thunderbirds. I certainly don't recall a Cliff Richard puppet. I like the Shadows and his singing okay, but he is some kind of scary Christian that at one time performed to support the Billy Graham crusade. And he's been knighted!

Anyway, on that same trip, since we had at least a week of free time in London, I went to a bunch of movies including my first Beat Takeshi film: Sonatine. Weird, funny, arty, lyrical movie about yakuza that merges highbrow and lowbrow. It has this memorable face-off between Takeshi and his at the time mistress Aya Kokumai:

If you haven't seen a Takeshi movie, run to your Netflix queue or whatever. After I returned to New York I went to Kim's Video and rented his first film Violent Cop. Takeshi had to take over directing the former when original helmer, maestro Fukasaku Kinji, became ill. It features the most poetically violent scene with a baseball bat ever committed to celluloid. His second feature, Boiling Point is actually called 3-4x October in Japanese (a weird baseball reference), and it is also deliriously wacky and poetic at the same time. My favorite hysteric moment was when the owner of a bar slaps down an 'ikeiki gal' (an now dated Japanese slang word for sort of a party girl). You have to see it, especially in context of the whole crazy movie. Definitely a reflection of Takeshi's crazy TV comedy shows where he would abuse and torment his friends and guests (notice the plastic hammer Beat is brandishing - he usually hits folks on the head with something - and also the momentary audio sample of The Stooges "Raw Power"):

It was a fun time roaming around London, seeking out different cinemas in various neighborhoods. I also caught Walerian Borowczyk's bizzare little arthouse/exploitation film about a monster, a woman and sexual obsession, The Beast. I remember it was in a nice, quaint area, and there weren't too many other folks in the audience that late afternoon. It also reminded me of a short film my friend Bob Nozawa had been in.

And I also managed to catch late 70's punk band The Vibrators in a local pub.

Let us close with this classic query: What do you call a person who hangs out with musicians?