All the Young Dudes, BBC4

Did we like it?
Paul Morley takes a look at how male fashions in pop music have changed since he became image-concious in early 70’s, and speaks to some of the leading fashionistas that influenced his dress sense. A fascinating, if flawed, programme ensued as Morley just couldn’t rein in his pretentious streak. We were shocked at just how many of the interviewees (who we’d previously assumed to be massively self-confident) showed just how insecure they were – Phil Oakey and Tricky being the main culprits.

What was good about it?
• Noddy Holder (Morley’s first influence) outlined how Slade went from a drably dressed skinhead outfit and tweaked their image to pick up some of the glam rock crowd. This influenced their sound as well, as the ‘skinhead moonstomp’ beat formed the basis of their transition into the band they became. Of course, whilst Noddy and the rest of the band had just updated the skinhead image, Dave Hill went completely over the top and tipped them over into almost pantomime. Noddy made for a really engaging interviewee, drawing laughs from the normally miserableist Morley.
• The Catweazle-like Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull – though these days looking more like a suited and booted Sean Connery. Some frankly hideous shots of him sporting tights and a codpiece at live gigs led to an almost-confession that he was disappointed that he hadn’t attracted more male interest. (“I still don’t know if I’m gay – I’ve never got round to finding out!”) He did seem mildly obsessed with American motorcycle cops…
• Morley’s claimed that his Northern roots meant that he bypassed the punk look, and went to the utilitarian, plain, drab look of the likes of Joy Division.
• Jarvis Cocker – now with a greying, full beard and looking even more like a computer science teacher – was his usual articulate, acerbic self, decrying ‘pre-aged’ and fussy clothes. (“ either have a pocket on a jacket, or don’t. Don’t pretend to have a pocket!”)
• Tricky was obsessed with his looks – still proud of his razor-sharp cheekbones!

What was bad about it?
• The nonsense about Morley being teleported back to the past, with him poorly superimposed against the Blakes 7 teleporter. It felt tacked on, and added nothing to the programme.
• As each interview was coming to an end, there were extremely annoying, almost subliminal flashes of the next fashion group cut into the interview. Someone got an editing machine for Christmas, didn’t they?
• Bernard Sumner missing the obvious contradiction when he said, “Our music was very much anti-image. So we felt that should be reflected in the clothes.” Then going on to say how they were influenced by Kraftwerk and the whole European look.
• We only got to see (and hear) about 30 seconds of Flowered Up’s superb ‘Weekender’.
• Phil Oakey (a man who looks even better now than he did in the 80’s) protesting far too much about “not being good-looking” and how he was “jealous of really good-looking people.” Come on Phil, pull the other one.
• Morley’s shoes (that he showed to Jarvis) reminded us of the shoes that the charity boxes in the shape of children used to sport. All he needed was a leg calliper and he’d have been a dead ringer…
• Morley’s concluding monologue (something about pop being a sentimental memory of itself and how kids will dress like the 21st century in 2029) in which we witnessed the sight of a critic disappearing up his own backside.

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