By Ruairi O'Neill
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Good Vibrations

This article is over 8 years, 8 months old
Issue 383

Good Vibrations is the story of Belfast’s “Godfather of punk” Terri Hooley. On the most bombed street in Western Europe, Hooley set up an “alternative Ulster” in his record shop Good Vibrations. This is a special little film and a gem of a pop movie. With the right blend of fact and fiction, it captures the tangible air of the period to perfection while also capturing your heart and soul.

The film starts in the early 1970s, with Terri becoming increasingly frustrated at the now divided society he lives in. His friends need to take sides in the ever increasing sectarian violence. However, although the film is set in the period of the collapse of the Civil Rights movement and the most violent period of the province’s history, it does not become one of those “Troubles films”. It gets to the heart of the Ulster punk scene while expressing the humour and wit of the people of the North.

But Ulster punk was shaped by the Troubles, and the film shows it was a music created for that very moment in time: to show the frustration, as well as the hopes and aspirations, of the youth of the six counties.

The scene in which Terri, played brilliantly by Richard Dormer, discovers punk while watching Rudi for the first time shows a vision of something hugely different to the oppressive grip of the time.

The film also shows the first play of The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks – one of Good Vibrations’ early releases – on Radio One. John Peel loved the song so much (he called it “the best two minutes and 28 seconds of his life”), that he played it twice in a row.

The unique sound of Ulster punk was brought to us by Terri and his motley crew of disaffected youth. Rudi, The Outcasts and The Undertones not only summed up the frustration of the period but also the hope of the punk scene in the north. Punk was a music genre created for the time, and this film reflects that so well.

As Terri puts it himself, “when it comes to punk, New York had the haircuts, London had the trousers but Belfast had the reason.”

Good Vibrations, directors Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn, is out now on DVD.

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