Don Letts' Punk:Attitude documentary on IFC/BBC

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Just watched this on IFC tonight. I guess it's a co-IFC/BBC production and was written and directed by Don Letts. I thought it was really well done with cool interviews with people like Glenn Branca, Howard Devoto, James Chance, and highlighted a bunch of the lesser known bands. It was an hour and a half and I could've done away with the last half hour with way too much Henry Rollins and shit about Agnostic Front. But the first hour was pretty spot on, even if it is sad to see how badly everyone has aged. Apart from Legs McNeil, Paul Simonon and Chrissie Hynde (natch). But worth the time.

Aaron W (Aaron W), Friday, 15 July 2005 02:57 (seventeen years ago) link

Jesus, I missed it again? ARGH.

The Brainwasher (Twilight), Friday, 15 July 2005 02:59 (seventeen years ago) link

It kind of crapped out around 1980 - the tossed off hip-hop connection (which didn't seem fit in with the time-frame they were referring to at all), little or no mention of SST/West Coast punk outside of Jello Biafra, then a fast-forward to Nirvana with "and then it went underground in the '80s." Definitely would have been better if they had just stopped at a logical point - I guess the break-up of the Sex Pistols or Blondie going Top 10 would be too cliche, rather than trying to sum the next twenty years in ten minutes.

milozauckerman (miloaukerman), Friday, 15 July 2005 03:02 (seventeen years ago) link

I was messing around on the IFC site and saw that it's showing again on:

Sunday, July 24 10:00 PM
Monday, July 25 3:45 AM

Yeah that hip-hop/Beastie Boys thing was kind of odd. But then it might've been because Don Letts is all about the black-->white-->black cultural exchange. Still seemed forced though. And I was also waiting for them to talk about, say, Husker Du or the Minutemen. And it was annoying that Rollins was presented as the face of Black Flag, although there was that bit about how "he didn't really join until two years in."

So I agree, end it at say 1982 or so and add lots more bits about the lesser known bands. That first hour was still great though.

Aaron W (Aaron W), Friday, 15 July 2005 03:14 (seventeen years ago) link

rather than trying to sum the next twenty years in ten minutes.

Mission of Burma
Husker Du
Sonic Youth
Green Day
Sk8er Boi
Green Day


I think we should have a thread where every genre is summed up with such simplification and gross distortion.

Cunga (Cunga), Friday, 15 July 2005 03:20 (seventeen years ago) link

It was pretty good just for all the old footage, as is the case with most docs of this nature. Jello got fat.

Jimmy Mod Is Sick of Being The Best At Everything (ModJ), Friday, 15 July 2005 03:25 (seventeen years ago) link

It was weird that he missed the easy Beastie Boys connection, I don't think their hardcore past was referred to at all (outside of being from the same era). He should have cut from the hardcore primer to some other talking head going on about these three/four dumb kids with a terrible hardcore band in NYC and then cut to a BB clip.

Loved the lead singer of ? & The Mysterians' shades in their clip.

milozauckerman (miloaukerman), Friday, 15 July 2005 03:26 (seventeen years ago) link

Thurston Moore says "they say it went away in 1982 and didn't come back untill Nirvana" I think making the point that there was a huge underground, Letts follows up with Agnostic Front saying "we were there" then they go to a bunch of interviews that imply that there was no punk during that time and thanks to Nirvana we have Sum 41 or whatever. Pretty weird. The early parts, like Screamers footage and Alice Bag and such were cool though. I always think it makes more sense to follow the Punk aesthethic and when you hit the 80s/90s it makes more sense to talk about anything from underground noise/improv stuff or DIY hip-hop and dance music then major label "punk as fashion" bands. But that's me.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 15 July 2005 11:43 (seventeen years ago) link

"It kind of crapped out around 1980"

Well, since that's precisely what punk did, it kinda would, wouldn't it?

If this is "a co-IFC/BBC production and was written and directed by Don Letts", how come it hasn't been on TV in the UK (or, if it has, how come I missed it?)

(How) did the programme makers attempt to reconcile the difference between the UK attitude / experience and the US?

I'd have thought it would need at least an hour and a half to try to explain that alone.

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:27 (seventeen years ago) link

I am DYING to see this, but have managed thus far to miss it (and the last two airrings aren't well timed). It comes out on DVD in September, tho'.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 15 July 2005 14:04 (seventeen years ago) link

Yeah, like everybody else, I never knew Agnostic Front was so important or that their man with the do-rag was such an articulate spokesman for the punk ethos.

k/l (Ken L), Friday, 15 July 2005 14:27 (seventeen years ago) link

Rollins can be pretty irritating at times, and I don't really listen to much Black Flag w/ him--My War on occasions. But I thought his comments were pretty funny, esp. w/ regards to bands like Agnostic Front. But I agree this last section of the doc. was pretty rushed and probably not necessary.

Still a very worthwhile documentary.

Joel (aquabahn), Friday, 15 July 2005 14:31 (seventeen years ago) link

I used to hate Henry R until I saw him do an excellent before-and-after imitation of mild-mannered pre-show Jim Osterberg morphing into onstage superman Iggy Pop.

Everybody should also watch the Classic Albums: Never Mind The Bollocks doc.

k/l (Ken L), Friday, 15 July 2005 14:43 (seventeen years ago) link

Henry on the homoeroticism of hardcore shows was classic. Even at his worst, he's better than Jello (who didn't seem to have much to add here, aside from "everyone was the only kid in their shitty town who liked the Velvets and Stooges, then they moved to a big city AND JOINED A BAND").

They spent a little bit of time on the the UK/US differences, some of the NY guys basically calling UK punks fashion victims, etc..

milozauckerman (miloaukerman), Friday, 15 July 2005 15:26 (seventeen years ago) link

Yeah, but Steve Jones says the same thing.

k/l (Ken L), Friday, 15 July 2005 15:35 (seventeen years ago) link

If this is "a co-IFC/BBC production and was written and directed by Don Letts", how come it hasn't been on TV in the UK (or, if it has, how come I missed it?)

I think I read this in Time Out, or maybe New York Magazine. There was a good interview with Letts where he said he was happy to get some of the lesser known people in there, he didn't include John Lydon because he didn't want him to dominate the film (although he let that happen with Rollins), and that he was tempted to skip over the Pistols, Clash & Ramones because he'd assume that viewers already knew about them, but thought that was weird. But yeah... Great first hour. I also really liked the Jim Jarmusch interviews.

Aaron W (Aaron W), Friday, 15 July 2005 22:36 (seventeen years ago) link

Keep misreading this thread title as "Daft Punk:Attitude...."

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Friday, 15 July 2005 22:48 (seventeen years ago) link

Adored all the Dolls footage . . .

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Friday, 15 July 2005 22:52 (seventeen years ago) link

But Jello had one really good formulation: that early on you had rock-influenced punk bands, while today (blink182 et al) you have punk-influenced rock bands.

These Robust Cookies (Robust Cookies), Friday, 15 July 2005 22:55 (seventeen years ago) link

I read the thread title as "Don't Let's Punk" and got very excited about a DC hardcore They Might Be Giants tribute album. Well, poop.

Guayaquil, Saturday, 16 July 2005 15:31 (seventeen years ago) link

I read the thread title as "Don't Let's Punk" and got very excited about a DC hardcore They Might Be Giants tribute album. Well, poop.


Oh, sorry, that's the screamo tribute...

Tantrum The Cat (Tantrum The Cat), Saturday, 16 July 2005 20:23 (seventeen years ago) link

It's on again tonight at 10 on IFC, for those who missed it the first few times.

The Brainwasher (Twilight), Sunday, 24 July 2005 18:29 (seventeen years ago) link

Still no sign of it on the sodding BBC 'though afaik.

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Sunday, 24 July 2005 18:31 (seventeen years ago) link

Woohoo! Watching it tonight. Once again, though, Amazon has it listed for DVD release in September, so don't go gargling with a bottle of sulfuric acid if you miss it this evening.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Sunday, 24 July 2005 20:56 (seventeen years ago) link

seven months pass...
Poly Styrene in her interview bits = k-rowr

Patrick (Patrick), Sunday, 19 March 2006 21:48 (seventeen years ago) link

oh yeah, OTM!!

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Monday, 20 March 2006 02:09 (seventeen years ago) link

Saw the DVD in blummin Asda for a fiver, was in too much of a rush.

Now: gorn.

mark grout (mark grout), Monday, 20 March 2006 10:40 (seventeen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
Now, GOT: Thanks to ebay, £8 for the 2DVD version.

Madly frustrating, for all those proto videos for "Typical Girls" and "Oh Bondage", and "Stop your sobbing" that need to go somewhere, full length. Oh how about the extra DVD? nope.

There's a longish interview with Dave Goodman, that wasn't used at all on the main doc.

It was interesting for being USA-centred for the first time, yes the UK version was accorded due respect, but it wasn't really acknowledged that the UK more than progressed. They do bring out James Chance a lot in these docs. Don't they?

mark grout (mark grout), Tuesday, 11 April 2006 12:19 (seventeen years ago) link

So what about the "US Post Punk Documentary" that's promised to be on Disc 2 (but is nowhere to be found)? Anyone know why that's not there?

Erick H (Erick H), Tuesday, 11 April 2006 15:03 (seventeen years ago) link

I probably said this before, but this and that Mojo issue about U.S. punk are at least an improvement over stuff like Stephen Colgrave and Chris Sullivan's Punk: The Definitive Record of a Revolution (love the "Definitive"), which contains the following passage:

"Although punk in its pure form lasted longer in Manhattan, it never really broke out from its original scene. Punk was largely confined to Manhattan, despite Malcolm McLaren's attempt to convert cowboys in the Southern States. Unlike the later grunge on the West Coast, where Kurt Cobain became a latterday Sid Vicious..." [etc. etc. ad nauseum]

Pete Scholtes (Pete Scholtes), Tuesday, 11 April 2006 15:42 (seventeen years ago) link

Looked last night, there is no mention of a "US Post Punk Documentary" on the packaging. Or on the disc itself, naturally.

Where does it?

mark grout (mark grout), Wednesday, 12 April 2006 08:07 (seventeen years ago) link

well, there's that documentary centered around LA with all the talking heads (not the band) and little footage...maybe that's what it refers to?

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Wednesday, 12 April 2006 13:41 (seventeen years ago) link

I thought this was good although I agree that the last part is very condensed.

I also recently caught most of Don Letts' Clash documentary "Westway to the World and was quite impressed. There is some really amazing footage of The Clash in this one that reminded me how much I loved that band at one time. It is one of the best biographical films I have ever seen on a band.

Earl Nash (earlnash), Wednesday, 12 April 2006 23:36 (seventeen years ago) link

I'm with you there.

Pete Scholtes (Pete Scholtes), Thursday, 13 April 2006 15:50 (seventeen years ago) link

one month passes...
I just rented this, and found it really disappointingly half-assed, esp. the second half. Nothing about Wire, the Fall, etc and yet all that screentime given to Branca, wtf?? He looks and sounds like a total wino, you can even see a bottle in his hand at one point. It manages to be okay up to the Sex Pistols and then falls apart.

Poly Styrene in her interview bits = k-rowr

If you read the "Where are They Now?" section on her, it says she went Krishna ffs! (meanwhile, Ray Cappo has "distanced himself" from the religion lol)

Q('.'Q) (eman), Saturday, 3 June 2006 02:46 (sixteen years ago) link

fourteen years pass...

Anyone got any idea what point Don Letts is trying to make here? Is in fact just about whether the Clash could have recorded "Police and Thieves" in 2021, as I suspect?

Woke For Luck (Tom D.), Tuesday, 16 March 2021 09:31 (two years ago) link

I don't think there's any value in trying to divine his point from dozens of sentence fragments scissored out of something else that he wrote himself.

armoured van, Holden (sic), Tuesday, 16 March 2021 09:43 (two years ago) link

It's usually about the Clash with Don Letts, so I'll stick to my original theory.

Woke For Luck (Tom D.), Tuesday, 16 March 2021 09:45 (two years ago) link

Probably, but it's a chance to use the phrase "woke culture" in a headline I guess. Don's appearance on Gardeners' World last summer was a cultureal highlight of 2020 for me.

mahb, Tuesday, 16 March 2021 09:45 (two years ago) link

I really hate his voice.

He does a show on 6music.

Idk what point hes naming except that white artists would be criticised for doing black mysic today. Not sure where protest music and cultural appropriation align though.

candyman, Tuesday, 16 March 2021 10:40 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

Not familiar with Letts recent work on Brit BBC radio 6 music, but just enjoyed 2022 Rebel Dread doc about his life ( was directed by William E. Badgley , best known for music documentary Here to Be Heard: The Story of The Slits, and is executive produced by Letts himself ). Some good super 8 footage from late 70s, and some interesting interview bits from Letts himself as well as Mick Jones, Paul Simonon (The Clash), John Lydon (Sex Pistols, PiL), and Jazzy B (Soul II Soul) among others.

curmudgeon, Monday, 22 May 2023 04:46 (one week ago) link

Dennis Bovell and others interviewed too. Brit history that some non- Brits might not know included too- Notting Hill Riots, Enoch Powell ugliness and how it all related to Letts . Young white punk future stars hanging at Letts place after Roxy shows footage. Later , Letts in NYC

curmudgeon, Thursday, 25 May 2023 19:13 (one week ago) link

Letts was hired by Chris Blackwell of Island to direct "Good to Go" the film intended to make dc go-go a worldwide genre, but then Letts was fired halfway into it. That was good for Letts long term as the film was a disaster.

curmudgeon, Monday, 29 May 2023 14:43 (four days ago) link

Letts did a Sun Ra doc and a Gil Scott-Heron one

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 30 May 2023 04:49 (three days ago) link

The Letts bio doc is so good. Love the footage of Strummer/Jones making the second BAD album.

SQUIRREL MEAT!! (Capitaine Jay Vee), Wednesday, 31 May 2023 09:07 (two days ago) link


curmudgeon, Wednesday, 31 May 2023 13:02 (two days ago) link

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