Flawed is Beautiful
"Better a spectacular failure than a benign success" reads the inscription on Malcolm McLaren's gravestone and that, in many ways, is what "Flawed Is Beautiful" is about, documenting as it does the rise and fall of S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men, two vastly underrated bands that burned brightly but briefly before being brushed under the carpet by Britpop.
Whilst differing in both style and content, the bands - both a good head and shoulders above the other bands in the ill-fated New Wave Of New Wave movement - were more brothers-in-arms than deadly rivals. This, in itself, reveals a good deal about them as people and as musicians.
First time director Adam Foley allows their concurrent stories to unfold with equal measures of humour and pathos as members of both bands rake over the twenty year old coals with candour and wit. Ed from S*M*A*S*H reveals that success for him is now knowing what's good for him whilst Julian from These Animal Men is glad that the records he made, rather than being ubiquitous, have to be sought out and appreciated by those who care as deeply about rock and roll as he does.
So perhaps Bob Dylan was only half wrong when he sang, "there's no success like failure and that failure's no success at all". This film is an essential document for fans of the bands and highly recommended to anyone who missed out on them the first time around. And the live clips are as electrifying now as they were back in the day. Two outstanding bands, one excellent film.
While hosannas are heaped upon another 90's rock'n'roll music doc, I'd like heap a little praise on a documentary with a story that some of us haven't heard ad nauseum for the last 20 years. If Supersonic is the macro vision of 90's indie, Flawed Is Beautiful is the micro...and it's all the better for it. You could almost bill these two films together...one as a cautionary tale where you write some good songs and the whole world takes notice and one as a cautionary tale where you write some great songs and the world's checking out Oasis.
Flawed Is Beautiful tells the story of two great, criminally underrated bands -- These Animal Men and S*M*A*S*H. For me, an American who happened upon both bands thanks to a record shop owner with a keen eye for his clientele, FIB is about a scene I only knew about from thousands of miles away and -- it being the early internet days - only through the pages of the British music press. That said, Adam Foley's film reminded me that some things are universal. You didn't have to grow up in Brighton in 1993 to appreciate the credos 'love's good, but not as good as a wank' or 'I wanna kill somebody.' Sometimes what you say is just as important as how you look saying it. And to borrow a line from another band, sometimes the drugs don't work.
If you're tired of Noel and Our Kid, check out Boag and Hooligan, Ed and Salv -- you'll be happy you did.