REVIEW – ANARCHY! THE McLAREN WESTWOOD GANG

Anarchy! The McLaren Westwood Gang (Cadiz Music)

Genre – Punk

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of punk (well, 40 years since the Sex Pistols burst onto the scene – we seem to have forgotten about the New York Dolls and a modest four piece known as The Ramones), this film takes in much more than just the short-lived, one album wonder of the Pistols.

Running for more than two hours, this documentary paints a clear picture of the influence of Malcolm McLaren, the great architect of punk, and the fashion influence of the now global, household name that is Vivienne Westwood.

After giving a brief insight into the early life of Malcolm Edwards, later Malcom McLaren, the journey explores his relationship with Westwood, their infamous ‘SEX’ shop on Kings Road, bondage fashion and his determination to be the British Andy Warhol.

Having first brought the New York Dolls to the UK in the early 70s, McLaren’s eye for putting together a great band was there for all to see. And if it wasn’t for the untimely death of Johnny Thunders, the punk boom may have happened much earlier.

With bands like Jethro Tull and The Grateful Dead dominating the charts, it’s fair to say that there was nothing for your average working class man or unemployed youth to relate to. And McLaren saw this.

This determination in both the UK and the States is fully explained in Anarchy! in the way of interviews and footage recorded of McLaren in London and Paris before his death, in what many have described as a masterpiece. But the truth is, it does drag on a bit.

Spending a tedious length of time discussing the dictatorship of General Franco in Spain, there is around 40 minutes of watching before there is any mention of punk, making for an extremely thorough documentary. But there is a feeling that more time could have been spent focused on the music.

With the level of detail included in this documentary, there certainly is no stone left unturned. And although political movements in the 60s had a huge influence on McLaren, it  will alienate a lot of the audience, who want to learn about punk and not McLaren.

In truth, this documentary is more of a glorification of McLaren and fails to pin down the poverty (working class/unemployment) and the depravity of addiction that existed amongst early punks – instead glorifying the movement and its influence on the catwalks with some of the world’s leading fashion designers.

Anarchy! The McLaren Westwood Gang is one for music geeks: the fans that want all the details. But it’s certainly not one that is going to inspire you to go out for a pogo, or think any more highly of McLaren.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 All art worth its salt sets out wanting to change the world!

Northumbria University Journalism graduate, rock and roll enthusiast and co-editor of RUSHONROCK.com.

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