Graham Reid | | 2 min read
At the end of this fascinating doco about the April '67 happening that was the 14-hour Technicolor Dream event in north London which featured the Syd Barrett-lead Pink Floyd at their early psychedelic peak, Barry Miles says that by the end of the following year everyone was just tired so went off to have sleep for a few years.
The cause of their collective exhaustion had begun two years previous when the emerging literary counterculture -- which took as its figureheads the American Beat poets of Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others -- merged with the new generation of British poets, and the politics of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
Despite huge rallies of predominantly young people in the mid 60s who saw an impending nuclear holocaust, the CND proved ultimately ineffective and so the politics shifted to the personal: individual freedom (as was epitomised by the emerging hippie movement) came to the fore through the counterculture.
At the nexus of this movement were writer Barry Miles (most recentle McCartney's official biographer), record producer and everyman Joe Boyd from America, the photographer-activist John Hopkins, and the scene around the Indica Gallery. Out of this core emerged the alternative magazine International Times, clubs such as UFO (smelly by all accounts), the London Free School and a number of bands including Soft machine and The Pink Floyd. It was a turning point in British popular culture, followed two months later by the release of Sgt Pepper's and then a few weeks after that Floyd's debut album.
As people here note, it was as if a light had been turned on and gloomy, monochromatic Britian suddenly went into day-glo colour.
This long and detailed doco charts the years and events leading to the Technicolor Dream event through period footage and interviews, and also explores the unravelling of Barrett through drugs and psychosis.
The talking heads here -- all the main players as well as Floyd members Roger Waters (who says he doesn't really remember any of the underground) and Nick Mason, as well as the band's manager Pete Jenner -- offer insightful recollections which are intercut with period footage of the young Floyd playing in various venues, McCartney seriously trying to explain the counter culture in a television interview, Barrett and Waters interviewed, and footage of the Dream event which shows a very tripping and bewildered John Lennon who had seen it on television while he was taking acid and had the chaffeur come round to take him there.
Not as much footage from the event itself as you might want, but the articulate commentators compensate. And there is extra material in the form of Floyd's videos for Arnold Layne and The Scarecrow as well as Astronomy Domine at Queen Elizabeth Hall in May '67. The extended interviews with Waters, Mason, Jenner, Boyd and Miles are very valuable.
It is a fascinating insight into a brief and brilliant period where politics, the personal liberation, LSD, fashion, art and goodwill all came together under the banner of making a societal change.
In the end that didn't really happen. The fact was that after all that activity, everyone was just utterly worn out.