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THE LAST POGO JUMPS AGAIN – Review by Jaimie Vernon

THE LAST POGO JUMPS AGAIN – Review by Jaimie Vernon

Last PogoWith recent media attention focused on the biopic ‘CBGB’ about the New York punk explosion in the mid-1970s and the recent release of a new comprehensive boxed set about England’s The Clash, it seems perfect timing for filmmakers Colin Brunton and Kire Paputts’ exhaustive documentary ‘The Last Pogo Jumps Again’ to shine the spotlight on Toronto’s simultaneously evolving punk/new-wave/alternative music scene scene circa 1976-1978.

Using Brunton’s iconic and legendary 1978 documentary film ‘The Last Pogo’ as a jumping-off point, the three hour and twenty minute film delves into the literal overnight upheaval of Toronto’s staid and conservative pop culture where Rhythm & Blues and Country dominated the musical landscape on Yonge Street. It was also a time when disco and Cock Rock were battling against these genres and yet still playing by commercial and morally acceptable rules of engagement. It left zero room for outcasts, disenfranchised kids from broken suburban homes and rebels without a clear future as doctors or dentists. Toronto was locked in a Utopian past and something needed to be done about it. At least according to those that invaded an otherwise broken down part of Toronto’s manufacturing district.

Through hundreds of hours of interviews, film clips and photos Brunton and Paputts began principle filming in 2006 and have seemlessly captured the microcosm of the art and punk movement that erupted on Toronto’s Queen Street Circuit as the 1970s waned. They not only return to the scenes of the crimes – mainly following promoter Gary Topp (and later co-partner Gary Cormier as The Two Garys) and his vision of alternative entertainment within a few blocks of the more vibrant Yonge Street strip – but to the people that created a loose fitting dystopian collective that played loud music, engaged in violent anarchy, took drugs, had sex and accidently created a fashion sensibility.

The filmmakers have left no stone unturned having put the stories of each of the scene’s shakers on screen to give their perspective on the tornado that was swirling only steps away from Toronto’s Bay Street business district.

Gary Topp runs us through the evolution of the clubs that he convinced to allow him to hold alternative nights – basically booking bands he liked from his record collection. The action begins with booking the Ramones at the New Yorker Theatre in 1976 through Teenage Head getting shut down by Toronto Police on stage during the ‘The Last Pogo’ concert in 1978; Margarita Passion’s New Rose clothing and accessories boutique where The Viletones sprang to life; Ralph Alfonso and The Diodes’ opening of their own punk club The Crash ‘n’ Burn; Steven Davey and The Dishes turning The Beverley Tavern into a community hangout for Ontario College of Arts students; The Colonial Tavern and its basement of near death (several key figures like Frankie Venom, Star Records’ Paul Kobak, and others were beaten by bouncers one night); Club David’s and its gay burlesque cohabitation with punks which would suffer a horrific scene ending fire one New Year’s Eve followed soon after by the murder of its owner; The Horseshoe Tavern plus The El Mocambo, The Turning Point and other clubs that created a new look west of University Avenue.

The evolution of the bands and their part in building the wave of new music are all represented here in full glory through Gail Bryck, Ralph Alfonso, Dan Huziak and Don Pyle and other photographers, Peter Vronsky’s restored ‘Crash ‘n’ Burn’ movie footage, Johnny Garbagecan’s ‘Toranna Punk’ fanzine, Gary Pig Gold’s ‘Pig Paper’ fanzine, Rick Shambles’ cartoon map of the scene, TV coverage from the shocked mainstream media, newspaper and magazine clips and personal memorabilia from original fans and supporters.

The biggest attraction here is watching the creation of a new music culture unfold as both historical document and current oral history – particularly from the musicians who were in the eye of the storm: Steven Leckie, Freddy Pompeii, Chris Haight and others who got caught in the vortex of The Viletones; Paul Robinson, John Catto, Ian MacKay and John Hamilton from The Diodes; the late Frankie Venom and Gord Lewis from Teenage Head; all four members of the Curse; the three surviving members of The Ugly; The Forgotten Rebels; The Cads; Michael Dent of the Dents; David Quinton of The Androids, The Mods and Stiv Bators Band; Rude Van Steenes (aka Rudi Tuesdai) of Arson; Cleave Anderson of The Battered Wives; all of The B-Girls and so much more.

Here’s your chance to see what the rest of Toronto was doing while Ronnie Hawkins was trying to hold onto to his legacy and Goddo was occupying The Gasworks.

The film runs this week starting November 1st through November 6th at the Big Picture Cinema (on Gerrard Street East between Pape and Jones Ave in Toronto).


Author of The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia


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