Apparently, Scotland was quite the place to be between 1977 and the mid-1980s, if you were an up and coming musician. Fast Product was created in Edinburgh to showcase new bands and give their music to the world, while Postcard Records covered the Glasgow area. Between them, Scotland became the launchpad for bands such as The Scars, Josef K, Orange Juice, and more. They even tried to help out bands such as Joy Division and The Human League, who would eventually be managed by Bob Last (the man who established Fast Product with Hilary Morrison). It was an exciting, and hugely influential, time. Just ask the number of bands that came along in the wake of this creative melting pot, or even the likes of Alan McGee.
Big Gold Dream tries to convey just how it felt to go through that time and tries to reaffirm the legacy of Scotland as it pertains to the state of British music in the last few decades. It does this in the usual way, with plenty of talking heads and some archival footage. But it also annoyingly insists on throwing in plenty of contemporary footage that has obviously been treated to look dated. If you couldn’t tell that something was off by the vehicles onscreen then the big poster for Mortdecai plastered along the side of a bus is at least one other dead giveaway. If you’re telling me that there’s some shortage of archival footage showing Scotland in the ’70s and ’80s then I will strongly beg to differ. Viewers may also feel further disorientated when it becomes clear that some interviews are sourced from a decade or so ago, without any notes to contextualise the conversations. Which leads to viewers like myself, familiar with many of the streets being displayed, wondering just why they’re seeing a Woolworths store pop up in what seemed to be a present day interview (for the benefit of non-UK readers – Woolworths closed up all of their stores approximately six years ago).
The varying footage doesn’t detract from the joy of the anecdotes being related, but it IS an unnecessary distraction. I have to give director Grant McPhee kudos, however, for the majority of this audio/visual collage. The fact that he also uses some very rough footage as a background for more voiceover work is much appreciated. It’s fun to see and hear those old clips, but it can quickly become a chore if you’re forced to experience too many of them that have been seriously damaged by the ravages of time.
If you’re a fan of punk, either in musical terms or just the rough ‘n’ ready mindset of DIY artistry that it encompasses, then you owe it to yourself to see this. It’s like an hour and a half of fun time-travel. With added spitting.
Big Gold Dream will be screening at EIFF on 19th and 27th June, and also has a limited screening in Aberdeen (Belmont Filmhouse) on 23rd June
DIRECTOR: GRANT MCPHEE
WRITER: GRANT MCPHEE, INNES REEKIE, ERIK SANDBERG
STARS: THE REZILLOS, THE SCARS, JOSEF K, ORANGE JUICE, AND MANY MORE
RUNTIME: 94 MINS APPROX