Not A Photograph

The Mission Of Burma documentary, 'Not A Photograph', showed yesterday at the ungodly hour of 4pm in merry London town as part of the Raindance Film Festival. So, Lucy, myself and our best-ever intern Alice (well, better than the last one) went to check out Burma on the big screen. Now, for me, music documentaries are generally tortuous – conveying what music means and how it is created must one the hardest things to do in cinema, and music docs mostly end up being increasingly self-important extended EPKs, which is boring for everyone. Burma don't do boring. Despite covering a pretty large timespan (and cultural shift), 'Not A Photograph' zips by. It covers Burma's origins and active years without mythmaking or romance (someone states, pretty matter-of-factly 'They were terrified of success'), and their early days still seem like the most exciting time to have been involved in US underground music. If you get the opportunity, seeing this in a cinema is a treat – all the archive footage on a large screen and loud soundsystem is totally worth it. Highlights:

  • Clint's wife explains that she had no idea that Roger was in a successful rock group. And has no idea who Nirvana were. Michael Azerad is horrified.
  • The New York show where Ira from Yo La Tengo, Richard Baluyut from Versus (Lucy was excited about that one) and Moby, from, um, Moby, all played guitar on one song.
  • The other New York show where Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo from Sonic Youth play guitar.
  • The Burma historian. That guy is animated.
  • Clint's niece: 'They're a little on the weird side'.
  • Roger refers to the band as 'legendary'. The rest of the band crack up.

All in all, I guess the documentary did it's job, cause when I got home I listened to 'Vs' and 'The Obliterati' back to back, and will probably do the same today. You can buy the DVD at And you should.

10 thoughts on “Not A Photograph”

  1. I was not horrified at all. You’re completely projecting there. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, right?

  2. I’m sure the spelling error was inadvertent, Michael, but truth be told, isn’t that great a story. If Mr. Gilmore had to come up something wildly sensational to drag people out to see ‘Not A Photograph’, this probably wasn’t the craziest thing he’d have come up with.

  3. The spelling error was indeed inadvertent – I apologise, you’d think having my own name misspelled and mispronounced since birth I’d be more careful with other people’s.

    With regards to your appearance in ‘Not A Photograph’, if I was projecting and that’s caused you some offence, then again I apologise. But I wasn’t bending the facts for the sake of a ‘story’ – this isn’t journalism, it’s a blog. I don’t need a story to convince anyone that I liked ‘Not A Photograph’, so making one up would be totally pointless.

    Anyways, I’m the one who’s horrified now – I’ve just been dissed on the internet by the author of one of my favourite books!

  4. >But I wasn’t bending the facts for the sake of
    >a ’story’ – this isn’t journalism, it’s a blog.

    Um, Ruairi? I have to say that that has got to be the lamest excuse I have ever heard for lying about someone online.

    For heaven’s sake, man, have a little class and do the right thing.

    The way to make amends for your “projecting” (i.e. lying) about Mr. Azerad is to change your post to reflect the truth.

    And, like, apologise. Profusely.

    Jeez, what is it with people these days?

  5. Shovelface,

    you’re missing the point. This wasn’t a story and there’s no lie to tell. Mr. Gilmore was reviewing a film. It is either his opinion that Mr. Azerad was “horrified” or perhaps he’s kidding around, it being a somewhat fantastical notion that a rational adult like Michael would give a hoot. And it is an amusing acknowledgement of Michael’s role as a modern rock historian.

    It think it is the stretch of the century to call this an attack on Michael, and I am personally very satisfied with the nature of Ruari’s apology.

  6. I don’t know if you missed it, Shovel, but I DID apologise for the offence caused.

    And let’s just remember that a blog posting or review is just OPINION. In light of Mr Azzerad’s posts, mine is obviously wrong, but I’m not changing the original post – that was my impression at the time of writing (and how was I to know any different?). I didn’t base the whole review around a ‘Azzerad shocked at someone who doesn’t know who Nirvana are!’ ‘story’, cause I didn’t think it was a ‘story’, i.e. I DIDN’T THINK I WAS LYING.

    Both ‘Come As You Are’ and ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life’ were hugely important books for me, I have nothing but respect for Michael Azzerad, and that part of my review was in no way an attack on him – how you could even imagine that beggars belief. I wasn’t even trying to poke fun at him, I was just highlighting a funny moment in the film.

Comments are closed.