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Live Review:

Oil City Confidential Film Premiere + Wilko Johnson
Coco 2nd February 2010
Review by Vac Fagan, Pics by Andy Hall

Julien Temple’s “Oil City Confidential” documentary of the rise of Dr. Feelgood launched across the UK with a ground breaking rock & roll cinema event as fans saw the film in their local cinemas, followed by the gig beamed live. Our crack team our Feelgood aficionados were there at the actual gig to bear witness...

To start with I must admit that this has no chance of being an objective review, Dr. Feelgood have been one of my favourite bands since I first saw them performing on “The Geordie Scene” on Tyne Tees television in 1974 or ’75, (still to be found on You-Tube I believe). In the days when R&B meant Rhythm and Blues.

I was a bit sceptical about how a film followed by a gig would work out (especially when I realised that we would have to stand for the whole film) but was reasonably pleasantly surprised.

Oil CIty Confidential

For a Feelgood fan the film was good, quite a bit of live footage and lots of chat from all the band members, even Lee Brilleaux in archive interviews. Most people interviewed seemed to be enjoying themselves and not taking things too seriously. Wilko was pretty funny at times and Lee’s Mum was brilliant.

The interviews etc. were intercut with footage from 1950’s and 60’s crime capers likening the band to small time gangsters. Personally I thought this point, although amusing, was over-stressed.

The film seemed well received by the audience but then again you could say that it was preaching to the converted.

Following the film Wilko was on stage pretty sharpish and played a good set as usual, obviously he’s not quite as sprightly as he once was but neither were the audience. Guesting on a few songs were Alison Moyet (looking and sounding good), Charles Shaar Murray on harmonica (Okay, but stick to writing about music Charlie) and Slim on piano accordion, the first time I’ve seen Wilko share a stage with a piano accordion.

Julian Temple reminded us several times that this could be the future of Cinema and Rock ‘n’ Roll, I’d take a bit more convincing that standing in a crowd is the best way to view a film. It did add something to the atmosphere but lost on visibility.

I doubt that many people will go to see this film who are not already into Dr. Feelgood/Wilko, but for those who do they might just enjoy what they see.

Julien Temple's Oil City Confidential is the last film in his trilogy on British music of the 1970s. It is a prequel to his landmark films about punk figureheads the Sex Pistols in The Filth & The Fury and Joe Strummer in The Future Is Unwritten.

Rather than being standard 'rockumentaries', Julien uses the music as a prism through which he examines the social and cultural conditions of the times. The films share his characteristic cinematic language - an irreverent and anarchic style of montage of archive and fictive footage, which he pioneered in The Great Rock & Roll Swindle

The Sex Pistols' and Joe Strummer's roles are well known, but Dr Feelgood, who are the subject of Oil City Confidential, played a vital role in creating those conditions for that cultural explosion and is a story that is as yet untold.

Oil City Confidential is a film noir feature length documentary and about Dr Feelgood; it's the story of four men in cheap suits who crashed out of Canvey Island in the early '70s, sandpapered the face of rock’n’roll and left all that came before a burnt-out ruin, four estuarine John-the-Baptists to Johnny Rotten’s anti-Christ.

Cannibalizing the visual flotsam and jetsam of our society, welding into an emotionally engaging and humorous whole, Oil City Confidential sets out to explore this unique time, place and social landscape - all of which was responsible for shaping the identity of the band and which, more than any other, defined the strange cultural vacuum which existed before the coming of punk rock.

Official Oil City Confidential website:

Our 2006 interview with Wilko:

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