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The City That Rocked The World (12a)

John D Hodgkinson isn't rocked by the new Liverpool music documentary

Written by . Published on August 2nd 2013.

The City That Rocked The World (12a)

A FEW days after Eric’s closed in March 1980, I crossed the waste ground where Cavern Walks now stands (I preferred it then, a nifty shortcut from the bus stop in Lord Street, to Mathew Street).

The protests and marches had petered out and all that remained was a shuttered door to the club now plastered with esoteric graffiti. One piece proclaimed “Long Live the Spirit” another something like “Bernie says goodbye”. This was no doubt local legend Bernie Connor.

There is no sign of musical perspective.
It’s as if an alien ship had landed and dumped prospective rockers in a heap on Mathew Street before whizzing off back into hyperspace

The idea behind this feature, from Liverpool-based Brightmoon Films and given its world premiere at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall last night, is to capture how that spirit motivated the music that came out of Liverpool from the post war years to the present day and to attempt to dispel the notion that it all begins and ends with The Beatles. Whether or not The City That Rocked The World succeeds in doing this is open to question.

The story starts with the immediate years before the advent of The Beatles, charting the rise of jazz and the skiffle movement  that lead to rock ‘n’ roll, but it is not too long before the foursome rear their mop-topped heads.  

Here we encounter a problem; there is no sign of musical perspective. It’s as if an alien ship had landed and dumped prospective rockers in a heap on Mathew Street before whizzing off back into hyperspace. What was happening musically in the city before then? How did it influence what followed?

What about the thriving music clubs in Toxteth? The Somali Club in Parliament Street? The Pink Flamingo in Princes Road? 
This would provide a cornucopia of historical perspective.

Forshaw Beatles Scrapbk Pge 3 

The area had the highest concentration of clubs in Liverpool. Stanley House, at the junction of Park Way and Upper Parliament Street, was where The Chants made their first public appearance, at a children’s Christmas party. Later on, it was The Farm’s Carl Hunter who pointed out the contribution of The Real Thing.

The Merseybeat section of The City That Rocked The World at least lays to waste any notion,  still being  held, that The Beatles were the only show in town, they were just the tip of the iceberg.

It was heartening to see Billy Fury get some credit. From a personal point of view I would like to have seen more of the wonderful Beryl Marsden, who receives but a cursory acknowledgement.

Andy MccluskeyAndy McCluskeyI couldn’t shake off the impression that the stories here had been related an endless number of times.  But there were still a few choice anecdotes, such as Faron of Faron’s Flamingos believing that you could just plug an electric guitar into a wall socket!

Unlike the time allotted to it here, the Merseybeat era came to an abrupt end. The conspiracy theory narrative was that the London-based musical mafia decided that enough was enough and blocked the signing of Liverpool bands in favour of The Dave Clark Five and their ilk.

At last, Deaf School’s Enrico Cadillac Jnr suddenly appears - to point out that he only link between their art school shenanigans and what preceded them was bass player Steve Lindsay’s ‘ironic’  Beatles suit.

To describe Eric’s as a punk club can be misleading, what happened during the second Mathew Street apocalypse was inspired by punk rather than defined by it.

This is by far the most vibrant part of the film. Roger Eagle is rightly depicted as a visionary, despite Ian McCulloch saying to be confronted by him was like meeting ‘A friendly Stalin’!

Will Sergeant points out that there was not a Liverpool ‘scene’: “We were all in bands, but we all hated each other!”

Garry ChristianGarry ChristianApart from Cream and the dance years, the rest of our musical tale is given short shrift. The modern era is dealt with in groups of three vaguely related bands.

My main contention is that the story is told almost exclusively by musicians and others directly involved with the business.

What it needed was the music devotees’ point of view; many of whom will have witnessed each part of the story.

What it needed was people like Bernie Connor: “How many people does it take to change a light bulb at Eric’s? One to change the bulb, 20 on the guest list.

An opportunity wasted.


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29 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2013.


Stephen MorleyAugust 2nd 2013.

decent observation, but far too polite

Stephen MorleyAugust 2nd 2013.

This promised so much but failed to deliver. For the mission to apparently shine a light behind the Beatles shadow there was a lot of errr...beatles...and associated beatles attachments to anecdotes of people who were 'there' and it became tedious. Moreover any creative links to bands through the decades thereafter was paid lip service and whilst some serious notaries provided great observations of the eighties there was no spiritual or artistic thread running through the generations. A lot ( a lot ) more people were missed than were included and this entire subject matter would have better been placed on 12 or 20 one hour documentaries, thoroughly researched by people with in depth knowledge year to year to even begin to do 'THE WHOLE STORY' justice, not enough an eminent figure getting his mates together to reminisce and then clag on the rest whilst looking moderately interested in The State and Cream ( which weren't bands btw )..ps...the current scene...well were the hell is it, we all know its there !

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2013.

I agree with John. The only things I didn't know was the anecdote about The Chants and the one about Beryl Marsden, both of whom were in the film for around 20 seconds, as were The Real Thing. No Holly, no Broudie, no Drummond, no Balfe, no Teardrops, no Wayne Hussey, no Pete Burns, no Geoff Davies, no Wild Swans, no Lotus Eaters, no China Crisis, no G-Love, no Vernons, no Wizards of Twiddly, no Space, no It's Immaterial, Coral. LOADS of OMD and The Farm though, and of course an entire hour about how the Beatles used to play The Cavern!! I was falling asleep. And WHERE was ALLAN Williams????

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2013.

Like being cornered by a bar room bore, insistent on telling you how wonderful they are, Liverpool at its parochial worst. Post Eric's the city has been no more influencial then say, Kettering or Plymouth - since when did Thw Wombats 'Rock the World'?

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2013.

And so old and dull, pop music is meant to offend the older generation, but not here where it is an act of tourism branding. So it started with skiffle and ends with The Hummingbirds!

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2013.

And nothing post The Zutons other than a 5 second segment of 'young people' although not so you were allowed to hear the music they were making!

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2013.

It was never going to end well when the Lord Mayor was rolled out to introduce it. Rock n roll is dead (still) in Liverpool. Why exhume the corpse?

Paul PastorAugust 2nd 2013.

For something that earns a paltry 6/10 it still, to me, sounds like something worth seeing. A terrific little quip to end on.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Ed BangerAugust 5th 2013.

The "20 on the guest list" quip about Eric's has been in the pages of Liverpool Confidential before.

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2013.

Roger Appleton the director is a good bloke with a lot of integrity. Suspect Bill Harry (one of the main people behind it) has been given too much allowance here. Certainly someone has. Still, in the US, they have these showings all the time. Maybe they can do a re-edit before it goes on general release.

T BeejayAugust 5th 2013.

No recognition of the influence of Black music and black clubs on Liverpool's music? Thats to be expected from a white heritage movement but disappointing nonetheless...

Kerry KatonaAugust 5th 2013.

No women in it either

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Val KyrieAugust 5th 2013.

Not even Lita Roza?

Kerry KatonaAugust 5th 2013.

Not even Lita Roza

AnonymousAugust 5th 2013.

Not even that famous cheeky scouser, yes, it's Sonia

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Kerry KatonaAugust 5th 2013.

No, no Sonia either.

Kerry KatonaAugust 5th 2013.

Or Reynolds Girls

AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2013.

The Vernons Girls?

AnonymousAugust 5th 2013.

I'd rather jack

AnonymousAugust 5th 2013.

aaaarh, scrate tharrinnit?

AnonymousAugust 5th 2013.

Er...Elvis Costello?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 5th 2013.


AnonymousAugust 6th 2013.

Rebecca Ferguson

AnonymousAugust 6th 2013.

Gomez ?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 6th 2013.

No. Nor The Addams Family

King George VAugust 6th 2013.

Gomez from Southport anyway.

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2013.


1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 26th 2013.

Not even Tom O'Connor

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