Friday, April 1, 2016

All herald the return of the Taboo Shackles

I know what you're saying. Hey, Bongo Jazz -- you haven't updated your blog in years! Did you die? Were you captured by aliens? What have you been up to over the past few years? 

Well, lemme tell ya — I've been doing daddy stuff for twin boys who arrived five years ago. But I've also been working with noted film director Alan Smithee Jr. on what I consider the most important music film of the 21st century — a film that I think could save rock and roll.

(Yes, I know today in April 1 but I'm serious here.) 

Unshackled: The Unreal Story and Unexpected Reunion of the Taboo Shackles tells the story of a band that, after 32 years in relative obscurity, is finally getting the recognition they deserve. 

And I'm not the only one who thinks this film is a gem:

For once, I think a press release kind of gets it right:


Dancing Turtles Productions is proud to present Unshackled, a documentary on short-lived but hugely influential Calgary band The Taboo Shackles. The low-budget film has already been heralded by critics as the most revelatory music film since From Justin to Kelly.

The Taboo Shackles played their first show on Nov. 28, 1984, and it was taped by a Washington, DC-based soundman, who shared copies with his musical friends and acquaintances.

Soon, the bootleg recording was spreading like wildfire throughout the underground rock community during the latter half of the 1980s, influencing many of the alt-rock musicians who would find fame in the ensuing decade.Until recently, members of the Taboo Shackles were unaware of the bootleg recording and its influence on countless rock musicians.

Today, as the Shackles' music and story start to attain mainstream attention, and as reunion offers start to come in, members of the band -- all middle-aged and most working jobs unrelated to music -- must decide whether they should give up their day jobs (temporarily) for one more big show, and one big payday.

Documentary includes contemporary and rare archival footage, including 1984 performances of Shackles originals A Song Named Sam, Don Don What Are You On, Peer Pressure, Meow-ow-ow and Wake Up. Also includes the first recording of sought-after Shackles rarity Old Bill.

Appearances from Nirvana, Moby, Bikini Kill, Adam Ant, Toto, Cory Mack, Tona Ohama, The Ruminants, Beagle Ranch, Terry Tompkins, John Rutherford, Zenon West, Mike Bezzeg and Rick Worrall, among others.

60 minutes.

Rated PG for some adult language.


I'm not gonna shit ya. Unshackled is as good as The Last Waltz but with less cocaine. It's shorter than Woodstock. And it's much funnier than Amy. It's worth the hour.

The documentary will soon be part of a multi-DVD set, Shacklebox (above).

The set will be released on the historic Apple label that -- as my readers surely know -- was home to a foursome that changed the face of popular music: The Black Dyke Mills Band, Brute Force, The Elastic Oz Band and Mary Hopkin (plus a few others, apparently). Look for it at your local video rental store soon!

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