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Bullets review

The band needed to go it alone. There is only so long you can be the hired help.
So even though it meant saying Goodbye to all that, they did it themselves, and it is in the tours they headlined in this middle period, and in the third and fourth albums, that they hit their peak.

Classic band

India flyer

They went everywhere. Tours, more flying sofas, more life in the coach. All to sell two albums for the GTO label - Double A and Bullets Through The Barrier - and then India for the GEM label.

These albums were not at all bad, and they sold quite well - especially BTTB whose first 1,000 came out on clear/white vinyl. Producer James Guthrie (who graduated to the Floyd) got it right.

The band finally got some sort of public recognition, due to the travelling, the higher-profile gigs, the radio and press interviews everywhere and TV appearances, locally and on the Old Grey Whistle Test (three times, twice with Whispering Bob Harris, once with Anne Nightingale). Bands played live on TV in those days. They were no richer, but they were better known.

This was a time to be Punk or Not. The Movies were usually considered Not. Because they could play, and they could play at jazz clubs like Scott's night after night, and they could string words together, and they didn't make a sort of grinding noise. In Norway, though, their sounds were immediately labelled Punk, and when they appeared on TV in Tromso they were hailed as the first British punk band to appear on Norwegian TV. The irony.

The Movies (though some had art-school tendencies) were not Punk. They weren't even human. They may have lived in flats and houses in the south and south-west of London, but their home was beyond Space. This is made perfectly clear in numerous songs. I won't bother to mention 'Hello from Outer Space', which is on the final album. That was made in America where the truth had to be spelled out clearly. Even before that the message was clear: our rules are not of this earth.

Jamie, the drummer. The most photogenic of the lot. What do they do with him? Stick him right at the back, invisible. Daft! They should have played with the drums in front. Unless ...

Jon, lived like a monk (except in Copenhagen), dry as dust, used to lecture in all kinds of boring subjects. Academic, dull, except in Copenhagen. The rest of them, witty, amusing. Who does the interviews? Jon. Incredible! Unless ...

What made The Movies special is their lack of speciality. They could go anywhere and talk to anyone. If they arrived at the BBC, they would talk the doorman's language, then the receptionist's, then the studio manager's, and then the Chief Executive's. They had the manner of every class of human being stored in some internal database. But for themselves, they were - in the words of one of their songs - 'No Class'. I followed them down a BBC hallway, and heard their accents, even their personalities, change according to whom they met on the way. This was not the behaviour of human beings, but of the mirror-men of Planet Tharg.

As for politics, their rejection of barriers, of class, and of gentlemen's clubs (viz 'Big Boys Band') might have endeared them to the far-Left, but it didn't, because the far-Left believed then that anyone in the Music Business must be deeply fascist. And the far-Right didn't like them because they rejected barriers, class, and gentlemen's clubs. And everyone in the middle was quite happy with Punk (whose words they couldn't hear) or Not Punk (whose words were blissfully untroubling). No wonder The Movies never made a bean!

But they had a devoted following, dotted across the globe. Dundee was a hotspot. And Bath, well I think that was the only time I came across an audience weirder than the band. Even in New York. And you know you've got somewhere when the audience mouths the words back at you. That's frightening. You really don't want to get it wrong when there's hundreds of people lurching in front mouthing words in time: if you get it wrong, they'll lose sync and start crashing about.

But enough of this high life. With the departure from the band of keyboards and then of founder-member Jamie, the survivors were forced into a rapid re-think. It was time to investigate America.

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