Out of the London backstreets of the 80s, behind the Sloane Square ‘Yuppies,’ was a different kind of style. London’s Soho was the centre of a newly emerging music scene, as far away from the clean cut Sloane Rangers and New Romantics as you could get. Anarchic Punk Rock met sexy Glam and a sleazy, tantalisingly trashy sound and style was born.
America’s New York Dolls then Hanoi Rocks and our very own Dogs D’Amour… And then one band crashed into Soho with an attitude, a sound and a style all of its own – they were The Babysitters. With mad hair and ‘guyliner’, they played music like they meant it and knew how to have a good time! This was wild rock with abandon and all the excesses of the 80s.
The Babysitters produced some unnervingly catchy hits such as Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken and with their very British sense of humour, one wonders if early 80s Comic Strip film ‘Bad News’ was actually art imitating life… In fact The Darkness could even be a modern day tribute to their legacy. So 30 years on, how did the film come about?
Having achieved notable success touring with rock giants Hawkwind and with stories that made front page news at the time, it’s amazing this band are not remembered by everyone of a certain age. Or maybe they are and we have all just been too embarrassed to admit it. Until now!
When a chance encounter on eBay between a fan and the lead singer, the interestingly named Buttz, led to an entertaining interview which later appeared in an American Fanzine, it was clear to Sedazzari that it would make a compelling film - and so it does.
Here’s just a taster of the interview by Carl Isonhart, courtesy of fellow musician, and equally unusually-named Andy Guttercat. When asked how much success they had enjoyed, Buttz answered:
“At the time, I was happy with our success, I think we all realized that a bunch of drunks could only go so far… We were the best live band in London in '85. The press loved us, and we slept with most of them to show our appreciation!”
Interviewed in the film are respected music journalists Ben Marshall and David Stubbs who provide a great insight into the band and the whole London music scene of the time. With cameo appearances from Captain Sensible and Mike Read, the film uses humorous signage between film clips, stills and interviews to great effect.
It’s a funny film with its moments of pathos as the much-loved and now deceased former drummer Razzle, and news editor of Melody Maker, Carol Clerk were both remembered fondly. The band’s manager Dave Beal ‘the Wheel’ also sadly died shortly after being interviewed.
The film also tells of the demise of The Babysitters and the start of the Last of the Teenage Idols, lead singer and grinning frontman Buttz being the thread that joined the two.
Watch the Livin’ Out Rock ‘n’ Roll trailer and you’ll see what I mean.
'Livin’ Out Rock 'n' Roll' was first screened to an audience in Soho in March of this year, to rapturous applause! I was there alongside the producer, band members and assorted music industry aficionados and heard the comments and the laughter first hand as the film played its premiere.
The next film festival screening will be at London’s Portobello Film Festival on Friday 30th August at the Portobello Pop Up Cinema under London’s Westway.
The U.S. premiere will be at New York’s CBGB Music & Film Festival running from 9th-13th October which also celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
The film is an entertaining hour or so long and has been so successful it has even generated its own merch spin off so you can now have your very own Livin’ Out Rock ‘n’ Roll t shirt (for your dog!) Yes, really.
More Than Just a Film
Livin’ Out Rock ‘n’ Roll is more than just the name of a Babysitter’s song. It is a film about a long lost London music scene, its survivors and the tales they tell. The final moments of the film are, for me, the essence of what it was all about, as Sedazarri takes the viewer on a visual tour of inner London, then and now. This is a must-see rockumentary set to become a cult film for anyone who likes music, and indeed anyone who doesn’t! Seek it out, and tell them I sent you. You won’t be disappointed.