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DVD Review: It's All Over Town (1963)

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Think of the 60s and specifically, music of the 60s and what do you think of? I'm guessing The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who, classic soul, maybe ska and possibly a splash of psychedelia. You probably don't think of the acts featured in It's All Over Town.

Yes, while we romantically think that the entire teen population was sneaking off to hip hideouts like The Scene and The Flamingo in the early 60s, the reality of what floated the collective teen boat was the easier, more commercial end of the pop spectrum. Which is why the likes of The Hollies, The Springfields, The Bachelors, Acker Bilk and old crooner Frankie Vaughan are featured in the movie. They were chart gold at the time, which made them box office gold. Over 35 years on? Well, let's say the acts haven't aged as well as they could, although the film certainly keeps a novelty appeal.

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Directed by Douglas Hickox (of Les Bicyclettes de Belsize fame), the film is essentially a showcase for these acts and their music, held together by a loose plot focusing on Richard Abel (Lance Percival) and his 'fat friend' (William Rushton), the former working in the London Palladium (where he sees the likes of Frankie Vaughan working the crowd), but daydreaming about another life with his friend, where the two are men about town, hanging out in a Paul Raymond night club frequented by bunny girls, watching a very British striptease (where the stripper seems to put clothes on), taking in various song and dance routines (Vaughan often the musical act) and visiting pubs and theatres (all of the cardboard scenery variety) They also throw in some period satire (corrupt coppers for one) and a few comedy party pieces of the music hall variety. Hey, no-one said it was Oscar material. Of course, the musical acts of the day pop up at every opportunity, for better or worse.

I think you've already worked out that time certainly hasn't been kind to the movie's soundtrack, which was probably safe even in 1963. There certainly isn't a Graham Bond Organisation here (as was the case with Gonks Go Beat) to lift it to cult status. The best you get is The Hollies, but even the leather-clad Mancunians come across as a second rate, all-smiling beat combo. This is a good five years before the Evolution album, don't forget.

But It's All Over Town does manage to charm in its own little way. It is slightly quirky in the way it's put together, it's also big, bold and colourful (thanks to a superb digital restoration) and above all, it's actually quite entertaining in a rainy Sunday afternoon kinda way. It even has a brief role for the legend that is Ivor Cutler. Nice visuals you could say, just a shame about the music. Unless of course, that's your kind of sound.

Find out more about the DVD at the Amazon website

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