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Various artists: The Last Pogo (1978) February 18, 2009

Posted by sjroby in Canadian content, Movies, Music.
The Last Pogo LP and DVD

The Last Pogo LP and DVD

The Toronto punk scene gathered at the Horseshoe Tavern in 1978 for two nights of music, an event called The Last Pogo. Fortunately, some of that history was preserved on record and on film. These days, when anyone can record an album on a PC and burn CDs or upload mp3s to a myspace page, it’s hard to believe how difficult it used to be for unsigned bands to record and release their music. Without The Last Pogo, some of these songs would have gone unheard for decades, and the bands would be… well, even more obscure and unknown than they are now.

The LP has seventeen songs: punk, quirky new wave, straight up rock and roll, and roots reggae from The Secrets, Drastic Measures, Cardboard Brains, The Scenics, The Mods, The Everglades, The Ugly, and Ishan Band. (A 2004 CD reissue, which I don’t have, apparently drops a couple of songs and adds songs by the Viletones and Teenage Head, who were the bands with the highest profile at the time, and who were at The Last Pogo.) As an album, it’s a good-sounding collection of the various styles in the early punk scene, with the usual caveat that it was probably more fun if you were actually there.

And that’s why it’s a good thing the DVD exists. Although it has less than half an hour of music footage from The Last Pogo, it nonetheless captures the vitality and excitement of a burgeoning new scene. You get to see several of the bands performing, and you get to see the cops shut the show down, and you get to see the aftermath of the riot (no, they didn’t film the riot itself). There’s also some interview footage of the show’s promoters and other interested parties. There’s so much happening that it’s surprising the film’s so short. To make up for that, there’s a half hour cable TV show featuring one of the bands, and you can watch the main feature with a video commentary by Chris Haight of the Viletones.

You can order the DVD for C$12 plus shipping. If you’re interested in the history of punk or of the evolution of the Canadian music scene, it’s a must. Meanwhile, the filmmaker, Colin Brunton, is working on a follow-up documentary The Last Pogo Jumps Again, revisiting all the musicians and fans who were there at The Last Pogo.



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