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pogo2posterFINAL2The Last Pogo Jumps Again studies the evolution of Toronto from small town to big city and it’s pop/counter-culture lifestyle during the early and mid-70s.  It centers around the first wave of Toronto punk rock and new-wave music, from the Ramones playing the New Yorker Theatre in ’76 through the police shutting down Teenage Head and causing a riot at the Horseshoe Tavern’s infamous “The Last Pogo” concert in December 1978.

London had the Sex Pistols, New York had the Ramones, but Toronto had a punk movement all it’s own.  The Toronto landscape by the late ’70s was forever changed with the infusion of the DIY/Punk/Alternative Culture(s) movement.  Six years in the making, The Last Pogo Jumps Again successfully explores the whys and wherefores of what was arguably one of the most exciting but misunderstood movements in Toronto’s history.

The DVD contains the 204 minute documentary, plus over a 100 minutes of added material, and a snazzy 24-page booklet.  Check the Shop for details on where you can purchase it.

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.  Available at the Shop.

I Believe in Miracles

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Back in 1988, when The Last Pogo Jumps Again co-director Colin Brunton was producing his first feature, Roadkill (featuring a cameo by Joey Ramone), he and partner-in-crime Bruce McDonald schemed up many marketing and promotion ideas, adhering to Sex Pistols‘ manager Malcolm McLaren’s number one rule: Establish the Name. Before they rolled on the first day of production, all the local critics and everyone in the indie film community in Toronto knew about the project. When they were near completion, they put together a deal for a soundtrack album.
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Joey Ramone and Colin Brunton on the set of Roadkill; photo by Joanie Noordover
It was 100% Canadian, except for Howling at the Moon by The Ramones; Joey had been generous and cool enough to help us secure the rights from publisher Warner-Chapell. For an extra buck, each band featured in the movie allowed us to include a tune on the soundtrack. Our music supervisor (who shall remain nameless) structured a deal whereby all profits were shared by the bands. There was nothing in place for Brunton or McDonald; they just wanted to get it out there. Establish the Name.
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Good idea! It would help promote the movie, but now they had the added task of promoting the soundtrack, and it’s pretty hard to compete with no money. So they needed to be sneaky, and didn’t mind breaking some rules.
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From The Torontoist; photo copyright Dave Sherret
The biggest music store back then in Toronto was Sam the Record Man. Each month, Sam would put out a glossy newsletter about upcoming albums, stories about musicians, etc., and on the back cover was a list of the top selling CDS and cassettes. Brunton and McDonald had a friend at Sam’s and came up with a plan: every Thursday night, their friend would pull all the Roadkill soundtracks off of the shelves, save for one or two, and the next morning, when management would do inventory, they’d fooled into thinking that this obscure film’s even more obscure soundtrack was apparently outselling The Rolling Stones. When the top-seller list came out the next month it was something like: number one Michael Jackson, number two Roadkill, number three The Rolling Stones. Boners!
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Or so they thought. The deal with the record company (Denon Records) was that all the admin stuff would be done by Brunton and McDonald: every three months Denon would send in the revenue, and once a year the Brunton/McDonald brain-trust would cut cheques and distribute them to the bands. Pretty easy. Until it came time to pay the bands. The accounting literally did not add up; there wasn’t enough money in the account. It was a frustrating puzzle, and after double and triple-checking the accounts they decided to go back to the original contracts the music supervisor had created to see if there might be a clue there. And there was. They discovered to their horror that said music supervisor had stupidly allotted 117% of the gross to the bands instead of, y’know, a more reasonable 100%. For every CD sold, Brunton and McDonald were on the hook for fifteen cents; for every cassette, twenty-five cents. It was right out of The Producers. They called their friend at Sam’s to tell him to stop the scam. They didn’t have enough money to honour their deal. It was a fine mess indeed.
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So they called up Joey Ramone and sheepishly explained the situation — and Joey took it upon himself to call Warner-Chapell and have The Ramones’ cut of profits cut a little bit more so that the books added up. Basically he saved their asses — and actually had something to lose by doing so. Nicest, coolest guy in the world? For sure.

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The Pogomobile
Despite the sad fact that three of the four original Ramones have passed away, their generous spirit lives on. Yesterday we got a call in the Pogomobile from Ramones management: in that friendly and charmingly straight-shooting way that New Yorkers have, John Cafiero called up to tell us that he and Dave Frey were cool with us using photos of The Ramones in our movie, and would help us get in touch with the publisher for the music rights we’re hoping to get. For anyone who’s been involved in photo and music rights in film, this is a big deal. Are The Ramones still the nicest, coolest band of all time? For sure.

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