Chaos! Ex Pistols’ Secret History ‘The Dave Goodman Story May 29th 2007: The title of this DVD itself lets you know that this isn’t exactly a straightforward documentary on the Sex Pistols; although producer Dave Goodman played a significant part in the group’s musical career, he’s not exactly the first (or fifth or sixth) name that comes to mind when people think of the band. The 100-minute film that’s the centerpiece of the disc has some value for serious Sex Pistols fans, but it’s an oddly oblique if not quite chaotic affair. First off, it should be known that it contains absolutely no Sex Pistols music or live sound footage of the group, which is a serious handicap in making a documentary of any sort on a major rock act. Nor does it include any interviews with original Sex Pistols John Lydon, Steve Jones, and Paul Cook (or archive interviews with Sid Vicious). And oddly, despite his prominent billing, Dave Goodman doesn’t exactly dominate the cast of talking heads interviewed for the project; he’s just one of a number of associates and scenemakers who participated.
To give this its due, it does include interviews with some very prominent Sex Pistols insiders, namely original bassist Glen Matlock and manager Malcolm McLaren, as well as Goodman and photographer Ray Stevenson (some of whose photos are used as stills in the film). Still, in all it’s kind of like those slew of Beatles and Rolling Stones DVD documentaries in which the filmmakers, obviously cut off from access to many or all of the principal figures in the story (as well as use of original music and archive footage), try to make do by shoveling on chats with a host of peripheral figures. Here they include Terry Chimes of the Clash, filmmaker Don Letts, journalists Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray, Factory Records founder Tony Wilson, and Public Image Limited’s Jim Walker.
If you’re not familiar with the basic outlines of the Sex Pistols story, you’re going to be somewhat or wholly lost, since basic acknowledgement of things like the most important events in their lifetime and the sequence in which they occurred are mostly absent. It’s more for Sex Pistols enthusiasts hungry for some anecdotes and perspectives that might be missing or underplayed in more conventional (and thorough) histories, though unfortunately some of the stories related are just familiar tales told a little differently this time around. Some interesting things are noted, such
as Goodman and McLarenrecalling the confusing circumstances leading to multiple attempts to record “Anarchy in the U.K.,” or Matlock giving his matter of fact recollection of when he knew his days in the band were numbered. Even if you’re willing to sit through this for its most noteworthy moments, however, there are a few other basic problems with the film other than its fragmentary structure, notably undermiked sound in a few scenes that make some of the interviewees hard to understand, as well as unsteady camerawork in a few (not many) of the interview segments. The extras include additional and extended interviews with some of the more notable participants, and these, oddly, include some of the more interesting observations on the disc, such as Matlock’s belief that the group got thrown off A&M in part because his name was on the contract and the label was upset he’d left, and Wilson’s feeling that McLarenwanted to make the Sex Pistols “the Bay City Rollers of outrage.” Also included are full versions of some of the songs Goodman wrote and produced that were used in the film, and though they’re obviously trying to simulate the Sex Pistols sound, they’re no substitute for actual Sex Pistols recordings.
The ’70s work of the late Dave Goodman leads us directly into the shocking true story of the birth – and initial success – of the Sex Pistols, the most explosive Rock ‘N’ Roll band ever (and the group for whom Dave G was the first serious producer). A band that still shock and thrill, in equal measure, some 30 years later. The filmmakers were lucky enough to know Dave back then and luckier still in getting other key figures to talk about him and the Pistols for this film – including manager Malcolm McLaren, Pistol Glen Matlock, photographer Ray Stevenson, film-maker Don Letts, broadcaster/label bigwig Tony Wilson and many others. Their words make up not just the bizarre tale of Dave and the Pistols but also the full flavor of what Punk, and Britain in the ’70s, was really like. A time when young people still genuinely believed that music could – and would – change the world. A time of hope. A very different time to now…