Oil City Confidential (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/02/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 106 mins

Superbly directed, impressively edited rock-doc that delivers an engaging history of Dr. Feelgood, while also examining their Canvey Island roots.

What's it all about?
Directed by Julien Temple, Oil City Confidential is a rock-documentary (or rock-doc) about pub rock RnB band Dr. Feelgood – comprising lead singer Lee Brilleaux, lead/rhythm guitarist Wilko Johnson, drummer John Martin, and bassist John B. Sparkes – who emerged from Canvey Island (nicknamed Oil City because of the massive oil refinery in nearby Shellhaven) in the 1970s and were an acknowledged influence on bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash.

The film charts the band's history through a mixture of interviews, archive footage, film clips and animated sequences, while also providing a sort of potted social history of Canvey Island itself, with Wilko Johnson on hand to provide a guided tour.

The Good
It's fair to say that the music isn't the main draw here (unless you're a massive Feelgood fan, obviously), since it's nowhere near as well known as that of their contemporaries. However, the garrulous, immensely likeable Wilko proves a hugely entertaining raconteur, given to poetic musings about Canvey Island and perceptive comments about the band in general.

The Great
Temple has assembled some impressive archive footage (including interviews with Brilleaux, who sadly died of cancer in 1994) and the film is brilliantly edited with film clips and newsreel footage adding context and background throughout. In addition, the film doesn't sugar-coat the reality of why the band broke up, citing a mixture of creative differences and substance abuse. Wilko's heavy drugs use and Brilleaux's drink problem are both explored in some depth and it's made clear that it was a row with Brilleaux that caused Wilko to leave the band in 1977.

Worth seeing?
Oil City Confidential is an entertaining and engaging rock-doc that can be enjoyed even if you're not a fan of the music. Also, can somebody please give Wilko his own TV series?

Film Trailer

Oil City Confidential (15)
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Content updated: 22/09/2018 10:46

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