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DVDs

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DVDs

DJ flicks! Sit down, grab some popcorn and if you're on the back row please keep your hands from wandering. These are our favourite movies with a dance music or club culture theme (loosely speaking). Great documentaries and a few features with historical relevance.

If you're a massive geek, have four hours spare (yes four hours!) and have a little crush on modular synthesizers, then this, the story of the; rise, the fall and then the resurgence of the modular synths is like a dream come true for you. If you're not a geek then interviews with the likes of Gary Numan, Trent Reznor, Carl Craig and stories of dipping components in acid to lick at will during noise making missions should also keep your attention. A brilliant documentary but maybe not one for that friends movie evening you've got coming up.
  • Sound It Out records is the last Independent record shop in the north east. As much about the people as the records, this amazing documentary is a tale that many of us could tell, the never ending hunt for the holy grails of vinyl and the collecting of records that at times never get more than a couple of listens. It's an ode the glory days of hanging out in a record shop and an insight to the utter mentalists (we include ourselves in this) that still spend more time than is healthy sifting through antiquated slabs of wax.
  • While it tells a story that many of us already know, Gary Bredow's film gets under the rather raggedy skin of Detroit to delve deep into the history of techno and it's links with Detroit's race-riots of 1967 to the underground party scene of the late '80s, it's booming industrialist past and down-trodden present. It may be a well told story but Bredow tells it with a passion and verve that even the most knowledgeable of us will find addictive.
  • Fed on punk and drop-forges, Sheffield kids were different. Cabaret Voltaire blasted tape loops from a van, Ian Marsh soldered up his own synthesiser and Phil Oakey cut half his hair off. “We laughed at the bands who learnt to play three chords,” says Oakey. “We just used one finger.” Interviews and great archive footage document the bold Yorkshire experiment that became techno's roots.
  • Now that Glastonbury is officially below the water table and populated entirely by Sunday supplement writers, you may want to re-live its more bonkers years on the box. Julien Temple collected 900 hours of home movies and spent a further four years filming till he had this magical compendium of gigs, blissful moments and random weirdness, right back to David Bowie in a cow-field.
  • No, not a new autotune remix of Lou Bega's mambo-pop crossover atrocity but Henry Chalfant's excellent documentary chronicling the musical melting pot that was New York's South Bronx. Covering the Puerto Rican immigration to the adoption of Cuban rhythms, the great fire that destroyed the area and the rise of hip hop from its ashes, it proves that hip hop is more Latin swing than bling-bling.
  • Marking the 40th anniversary of dub and the 20th anniversary of the death of King Tubby, this dub-umentary from Soul Jazz features a large selection of crusty old dub dudes and crusty young dub dudes, all waxing lyrical about dub, its influences and the many styles that have plundered its innovations. Three years in the making, this is most definitely a rinse selection.
  • The story of hip hop is for most people the history of the MC, the rapper, the man who always has something to say. This brilliant documentary flips the focus to the DJs and turntablists. Shot and edited like a visual cut-up, it features everyone from D.St and Flash to modern heroes like Q-Bert, Mixmaster Mike and DJ Shadow. All you diggers out there will gasp when you see Shadow's secret spot.
  • Four middle aged men wearing Tron suits playing glacial, German minimalist electronica sounds as if it should be amazingly... dull. It isn't. What comes across more than anything is how good the music is. There is a lovely LED display thing going on and they send out robot/mannequins for 'We Are The Robots', but in the end it is the utterly human element of the performance that triumphs.
  • Run DMC quit the carwash to stalk Sheila E, a Fat Boy irons his laces, and 17-yr-old LL steals the show. Russell Simmons’ rap to riches story was always corny, but it's grown endearing with age. Shot in Disco Fever, with owner Sal Abatiello, DJ Sweet G and bouncer Mandingo, plus interludes in Danceteria. Rick Rubin is happy to play himself but Simmons hires the best looking actor he can afford.
  • “Daddy, where does hip hop come from?” Only a vague storyline, the real action is spotting babyfaced old-school legends get excitable. Late 1981, and rap, graffiti and breakdancing are bursting out of the Bronx, with block parties, MCing and incendiary DJ performances by Flash, Theodore, Jazzy Jay. (D.St is the faceless maestro cutting up Chic). Plus nuff 25th anniversary extras. Esssential.
  • Clint’s first go as a tough cop who plays by his own rules (etc, etc), escorting a prisoner from Rust-bucket Arizona to the depravity of NYC. A pedestrian TV flick turns wild when baddy escapes and leads Clint – in an acid haze – through a freak-out downtown clubscape: projections, body-paint, go-go girls and spinning vision, with the Electric Circus playing the Pigeon-Toed Orange Peel Club.
  • Few time and place combos would beat New York in 1981: art and music drip off the fire escapes. Spend a life in the day of graffiti genius Jean-Michel Basquiat as he walks its crumpled streets, searching for enlightenment, a beautiful girl and something to eat. Kid Creole, John Lurie, Suicide and Melle Mel pass by, not to mention Debbie Harry as a fairy bag-mother. Pure time travel.
  • Dodgy overacting and a shit script can’t prevent this film from getting something right. 1977, Jubilee year and London’s punks, skinheads and soulboys are going at it full volume. But too many themes are fighting for attention: a murder, racism, homophobia, love across the tracks and pirate radio. It’s really only the clothes and the great soundtrack that hold your attention, but they do it well.
  • “What’s happenin’ Houston?” It’s the way George saunters off his mothership, rocks his head and taps the handrail, or the guy in the audience passing a joint to the band, or the 30 people jamming onstage at the end: Maceo, Fred, Bernie Worrell, Bootsy banging a cowbell, the Parliaments belting it out – once you’ve seen this you may doubt you’ve ever been to a real concert.
  • When the Rolling Stones invented the job of ‘global drug-fuelled rock god’, they gave Robert Frank access all areas to make the recruitment film: it’s so compelling they locked it up on completion. Mick is super-sly, Keef is a gorgeous imp, Bianca is devastating. Jets, concerts, groupies, the finest narcotics known to humanity. No film will make you feel more like a rock star.
  • The Stones are on a stage the size of a kitchen, facing a pitch-black hill with 300,000 hippy kids crushing forward. It’s a freezing night, the acid’s turned bad and the only security is the hells angels, who kick off each time they start Sympathy For The Devil. Then... someone’s killed on camera. The bitter end of flower power and you’re watching the dream crumble second by second. Amazing.
  • A fancy gin joint with a jazz jungle onstage and drums beating out a rumbling New Orleans groove. A troupe of Josephine Baker-style dancers stalk in, with massive afros, warpaint and spears, marching a gorilla. Surrounded, the gorilla takes off its head. It’s Marlene Dietrich! She puts on a huge blonde wig and sings a song about hot voodoo. And that’s just the first number.
  • Before this came out, disco was a caring, sharing family affair where everyone said excuse me and gave each other free acid punch; afterwards it was an evil, money-making craze with polyester slacks and the Bee Gees. Nik Cohn, who wrote the magazine piece it was based on, admitted recently that he made it all up. The 30th anniversary edition wheels in Bill and Frank for added laughs.
  • Underage drinking, drugging, snogging and fucking, with the dramatic bonus of HIV working its way through the cute cast. Larry Clark’s film is a portrait of New York’s baggy suburban rave generation – born in clubs like NASA and Caffeine. It launched Chloe Sevigny and Rosario Dawson and earnt Clark a fair share of moralising controversy. These days it’s just an episode of Skins.
  • Britain is cold, wet, racist and jobless, your yard is a New Cross bomb site, all dead bricks and corrugated iron, and to top it all your boss is Mel Smith. But come the weekend your sound, Ital Lion, takes on the mighty Shaka. The classic London roots reggae time capsule, a peek back to the days of Ford Anglias and thunderous dub clubs, and a finely crafted movie into the bargain.