Went to see the David Kilgour film, Far Off Town – Dunedin to Nashville, last week and was a little disappointed.
I would’ve loved to see a film about David Kilgour, to find out why, in over a quarter of a century, there haven’t been more than a handful of Clean records, to have a first-hand appreciation of the post-punk spirit and 60s idolatry that lit the fuse in Dunedin for all of those great bands that found their way on to the Flying Nun roster in the early 80s.
Sure, Kilgour’s record collecting - buying Dylan in secret from his mum when he was 12 – was touched on, but there was no feeling for what came after. When Robert Scott – and I’m still pressing year after thankless year for a baronetcy or some lesser honorific like a knighthood to be bestowed upon the great man – walks past your camera, you’d switch focus and have a word, surely? But no.
This film is about David Kilgour going to Nashville and the making of the Frozen Oranges album in which the cast – Lambchop as backing band, musicians such as David Berman (and I think an honorary knighthood for him will be my next campaign after Robert Scott’s got his recognition) and assorted Merge label signings – talk more than the main subject.
I appreciate Kilgour is perhaps a truculent individual, or a shy one, or a private one. The thing is, this film didn’t tell us which of these he was. All it told us was a few facts in a few interview segments with the subject. The star of this film is really Nashville, its independent music scene, embracing both its country traditions and its contemporary indie stylings, and the clubs and personalities of the city.
If you forget the David Kilgour and Dunedin bits of the title, then you’ve got a more accurate picture of this film. A disappointment for this confirmed Kilgour fan – Sugar Mouth is one of my most played albums of these past dozen years, for example – but great for fans of Lambchop, “alt-rock” and Nashville.
There’s a good David Kilgour film to be made – and a great Flying Nun/Dunedin one, too – but this isn’t it.