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LFF 2010: 'Upside Down: The Creation Records Story'

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'Upside Down: The Creation Records Story' logo
It's startling how well-documented - in print and on celluloid - British music from the '90s has become. Muscling into that crowded marketplace, Danny O'Connor's Upside Down picks Creation Records as its subject, with the label's founder Alan McGee as its flawed hero. Like a solid Oasis album track, O'Connor's direction is far from groundbreaking, but it's also ruthlessly efficient. As in Julian Temple's Pistols doc The Filth & The Fury, archive footage is blended with contemporary interviews (in b&w) for a narration-free recollection of what was one of the last great independent record labels.

There's the obvious drawback of squeezing 25 years into 100 minutes. Despite an admirable attempt to cover the broad scope of Creation (The Loft to Oasis, Ride to Swervedriver, Jesus and Mary Chain to Super Furry Animals), some acts - and countless stories - naturally fall by the wayside (Wot, no Mishka?! Meanwhile, the phrase Be Here Now is not mentioned once). Those whose appetite is whetted by the film would do well to read David Cavanagh's My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize - despite McGee's poor opinion of it.

What makes Upside Down always watchable is the story it tells about music that mattered. It gains from the refreshing approach of the major players - McGee included - who avoid the temptation to recast events and paint themselves as heroes or visionaries. Unlike Blur's self-regarding No Distance Left To Run, there's a real understanding that magical moments in pop history are rarely calculated - and they also don't come from nowhere. A key clip finds a refreshed McGee in Manchester, embracing Acid House and being interviewed by Factory boss Tony Wilson. Asked why he moved up north, McGee plainly responds: "A better class of drug, Tony." What Upside Down neatly reveals is that - as well as the genius of people like Kevin Shields, Bobby Gillespie and the Reid brothers - it's unlikely serendipity and wonderful insanity that are the real drivers of pop.


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