The Last Pogo Jumps Again is a documentary about the punk/new-wave/alternative music scene in Toronto, from when The Ramones hit the stage of The New Yorker in 1976 to when the cops gave Teenage Head the boot at infamous The Last Pogo concert in 1978. Filmmakers Colin Brunton and Kire Paputts started the project in June 2006 and logged hundreds of hours of interviews, photos and film clips. Using the 1978 film The Last Pogo as a jumping-off point, the three hour and twenty movie explores the dynamics of what was arguably the most exciting cultural explosion in Toronto’s history.
The Last Pogo (1978) is the documentary that chronicled the last punk rock show at the Horseshoe Tavern when it was run by legendary Toronto promoters The Garys (Topp and Cormier) featuring The Scenics, Cardboard Brains, The Secrets, The Mods, The Ugly, The Viletones and Teenage Head. The Last Pogo was released on DVD in 2008 to great reviews.
Lyric book. All photos by David Mewa
For a long time, CBC Radio producer Ron Skinner wanted to do something around The Last Pogo. (For those of you new to these pages, The Last Pogo was the last punk concert at the Horseshoe Tavern when it was booked by legendary Toronto promoters The Garys. Colin Brunton made a short film of it in 1978; and now after six years of work, he and filmmaking partner Kire Paputts have put together The Last Pogo Jumps Again, a sort of prequel to the original short film, and a whopper at three hours and twenty minutes.)
Ron’s original idea was to put on a big punk rock show with Fucked Up as the main act and get other acts from across Canada to sit in with them. It proved to be a bit too much for everyone, so a few weeks ago Ron got Fucked Up to the stage of the Horseshoe Tavern at eight in the morning on a Saturday, and video-taped and recorded them doing covers of songs from bands from The Last Pogo concert. The Last Pogo concert was on December 1, 1978, so the recordings will mark the 35 years + 1 day anniversary of that show.
The Last Pogo press release, 1979. Written by Gary Topp.
Two or three takes of each tune, and they were done by one o’clock. It is being billed as A Fucked Up Last Pogo, and while it won’t be broadcast on television, you can click this link to see them cover The Secrets, The Ugly, Teenage Head, and Cardboard Brains. And check that blog out on Monday for more stuff.
Ron has recorded over 1000 concerts and sessions for CBC Radio over the past 15 to 20 years. One was a show that paid tribute to The Last Waltz called “We Shall Be Released”, featuring Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and and others in 2008. The name The Last Pogo was of course a take-off on The Last Waltz, The Band’s last big show.
The Schmenge Brothers, Eugene Levy and John Candy
Years later SCTV comedians John Candy and Eugene Levy would produce their own special The Last Polka, featuring The Schmenge Brothers with ill and rocking polka beats.
The Fucked Up Last Pogo session was recorded live off the floor; Ron left it up to the band to choose the songs. They covered The Secrets’ Teenage Rampage, The Cardboard Brains’ I Wanna Be A Yank, Teenage Heads’ Picture My Face, and The Ugly’s Disorder.
Ron says everyone “walked away thinking that they had just done something really cool. Telling a story of an era that has had such an impact on music in Canada. And having Fucked Up take part in that. It was obvious how much respect the band had for the music and the trials and tribulations that punk rockers had to go through back then. They seemed honoured to be paying tribute to these bands and that night.”
It would be great if some popular bands covered the musicians from that special era in Toronto history (Justin, yo, ‘sup?) and make the writers some money, in the same way that The Blues Brothers helped out Downchild’s Blues Band by covering and releasing some of their songs: royalties off of big selling albums can be huge. So this is something. I mean, really: if bands like Fucked Up can acknowledge the influence that the first wave of punk bands from Toronto had on them, releasing a few tracks is not going to hurt. Although most of The Last Pogo Jumps Again was paid for all out-of-pocket, we did receive enough money from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Toronto Arts Council to pay artists for music rights, photos, and films. And get this: in an interview with a member of The Demics in our movie, they calculated that the seminal song New York City may have netted them a grand total of $300.00. Total. To be split among all the band members. For a song that is commonly listed as amongst the best Canadian songs ever recorded. And we don’t envy Steven Leckie, Freddy Pompeii, Chris Haight and Motor X of The Viletones: they’ve been covered by Guns & Roses, Nirvana (you can hear them cover The Viletones’ Possibilities in the movie) and more. But not one song made it onto a record. Chris Haight’s last royalty cheque was in the eight dollar range.