Never mind the music, it’s all about the drugs

Creation Records doc lacks focus and depth

Oasis and The Jesus & Mary Chain are just two of the many drugged out groups that helped Creation Records become one of the most popular labels of the 1990s. Supplied

Upside Down: The Creation Records Story showcases the British independent record label that was home to such great acts as The Jesus and The Mary Chain, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fanclub and Oasis.

First-time director Danny O’Connor showcases Creation Records from its early beginnings until its demise over a decade ago in what feels like no definitive linear fashion.

Although it has interviews with the above-mentioned bands, as well as other signed acts, its main focus is Creation founder Alan McGee.

We are only given glimpses into the beating pulse of Creation as a whole, and herein lies the problem - it feels poorly patched together. As a result, it is confusing and leaves a lot of holes and a lot of questions unanswered.

The film barely touches on the label’s bankruptcy and financial struggles, and only briefly kisses on the relationships McGee had with the bands; nor does it explain the coming and going of bands on and off the label.

However, it does go into great detail about the chaos and attitude that surrounded all who were involved in the Creation family.

In short, it was all about the party - and maybe that’s the message. Maybe that’s how Creation survived all the years it did through that unrelenting fury.

Maybe I’m missing the point.

Regardless, I’m amazed Creation survived for as many years as it did given the circumstances.

But most of Upside Down feels like McGee and company are looking back on one gigantic drug-induced episode rather than focusing on the ins and outs of the record label itself or the bands’ histories and their albums.

“I actually thought I was up there with Beethoven or Shakespeare ... that I was making history with Creation Records,” McGee says, mockingly, at one point in the film. It’s further proof of what McGee’s mental state really was during those Creation years.

Overall, it’s a film that seasoned and educated fans of Creation artists will still be able to appreciate, but for any newcomers: be sure to bring your tourist map because you’re sure to get lost along the way.

Published in Volume 66, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 18, 2012)

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