TV Party - A

ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE: We Are The League {MVD/ Cleopatra}
If ever there was a band that typifies the opposing polemics of love and hate, it’s ANWL. For me, I sit firmly in the ‘Hate’ field. Their brand of thug Punk and buffoonish offend-for-no-reason lyrics have never appealed. I’ve seen ‘em, heard the records and always came to the same conclusion: rubbish. And now, there’s this nigh-on two-hour documentary. Given this is a documentary, I’m going to try to be impartial and, incredibly, I did make it all the way through!
It kicks of with a number of fans extolling these Tunbridge Wells ‘heroes’ in non-too prosaic ways before, even I have to admit, a rather ripping take on the band’s gnarly anthem, ‘So What’.
From there it’s a fairly comprehensive, and yes, entertaining, telling of the band, from their early days in Tunbridge Wells where vocalist Animal was originally a Skinhead gang leader before a greaser biker gang member. Apparently he and some of the band used to head to the villages for, “fights and easy lays.” He also hated Punk apparently - at least until he saw THE DAMNED support T-REX in London.
Have to say, guitarist Magoo comes across as a genuinely interesting person, while Animal and bassist thug Winston also come over as quite amicable.
There are however a number of laugh-out-loud moments - maybe not intentional either, including the admission that, “writing horrible songs is better than punching people” and the rather more troubling fact that when Iranian drummer PJ joined the band, he was forced to wear a stocking over his head to hide his nationality - just to appease the band’s more Right Wing/ National Front fan base. Winston constantly ridicules his accent and it appears the band kept his drum kit when he left. Nice...
There are a few notable interviewees too, including Stewart Copeland (who apparently did a lost art-Punk film, primarily for his ‘mates’ CJELSEA, called ‘So What’ which has a few clips in this documentary), former manager John Curd (who the band seem to have a bit of an issue with) and former DAMNED drummer Rat Scabies, who seems to be enthralled at the band’s don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. He also recounts the infamous story of saying to Winston that there’s nothing he could do to be more outrageous than Rat himself, only to then watch Winston get a carrot from the bands’ rider, slap some kinda cream cheese on it and shove the whole thing up his arse - before eating it!!
It continues on through some terrible commercial sounding shit before the band break up in 1989. Well, that is until METALLICA record ‘So What’ and Animal smells money so gets the band back together following an on-stage performance with METALLICA (included here too). The latter day members of ANWL get minor, courtesy interviews but their screen time is far out weighed by both Magoo and Winston.
Bonus features includes extended interviews and a CD of 19 previously unreleased live ‘gems’ from 1982. And no, I did not play that - that thing Winston did with the carrot is almost preferable in my opinion!!
I have to say, that as a documentary, this was rather enjoyable. Funny and cringe-worthy, revealing and intimate and very well directed by George Hencken who gets the outrage plus the more restrained off stage personalities of the band themselves. The narrative follows a good time line, there’s plenty of unseen footage (including the band’s first ever London gig at the Lyceum) and while he does eulogise the myth (how could he not), he never lets sensationalism get (too far) in the way of the story.
So, to conclude simply - a very entertaining film of a very bad band. I’m sure ANWL lovers will froth at the mouth while watching. (30.04.20)
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