Vicious from All the Inside Angles

sid-those-who-knew-him
Sid! By Those Who Really Knew Him (MVDvisual DVD)

In a short twenty-one years of life, with less than a year of them spent with The Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious created a legacy that has secured his position as one of the predominant icons of Punk. Sid! By Those Who Really Knew Him attempts to get an inside perspective on Vicious by combining the testimonies of those who surrounded his brief life. Archival footage, photos, and concert posters punctuate the DVD documentary, which arrives at no definitive conclusion. It's accompanied by a thick little booklet plus a live CD with 10 tracks of Sid playing in N.Y.C.

The roster of sources includes such punk notables as David Vanian (The Damned), Steve Severin (Siouxsie and the Banshees), Jah Wobble (Public Image Ltd.), Marco Pirroni (Adam & The Ants), Viv Albertine (The Slits), and Glen Matlock (The Sex Pistols). Nearly all the interviews are conducted in settings that include well-placed images of Vicious and The Sex Pistols in accented locations. The exception is Malcolm McLaren, who is shot with a strange editing effect and in odd locations (there are a few times when it looks like they caught Malcolm in his car while pulling out of the driveway). It’s safe to assume that McLaren insisted on being the disruption to the otherwise consistent device. Aside from Matlock it seems no other Sex Pistols were available for comment; Johnny Rotten’s absence is particularly disappointing. However, what they did get on tape is worth watching.

One of the best qualities about this documentary is how it avoids any agreed upon idealized memory of the fallen icon. There is no consensus on whether Vicious could actually play bass, though it's safe to say McLaren did right by turning down his amp. Ron Watts (Promoter for 100 Club) recalls Vicious as a hooligan that he was constantly reprimanding, Viv Albertine remembers sharing childhood rebellions, David Vanian holds a teenage grudge, and Caroline Coon (an English artist, according to Wikipedia) drools over the dead idol with a flame that hasn’t gone out in thirty years. The end result is a multi-sided view of Sid that sees his zits, his scars, his hype, and the reasons why we still care about him today.

Lastly, the documentary offers a good definition of irony by showcasing a plastic action figurine of Sid that is prominently featured throughout. Just a friendly reminder on how thoroughly dead punk really is. - C. Jefferson Thom

cj_thom

Mr. Thom lives in New York City and walks dogs, writes plays, and loves dissecting pop culture.

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