Pirate Radio

“Pirate radio”

(The boat that rocked) starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, as a DJ on the famous pirate radio ship transmitting off the coast of England in the mid-60s, when official UK stations did not play rock and roll. Loosely based on Radio Caroline and Radio London broadcast to the UK from offshore ships or disused sea ports. Not technically illegal at the time because they broadcast from international waters. Naturally, the British government, unable to control the competition to the BBC, established Marine Broadcasting Offences Act of 1967, making them illegal. Of course, this made them more popular. By 1968 21 pirate radio stations were broadcasting to an estimated daily audience of 10 to 15 million. Today there are currently an estimated 150 active, unlicensed pirate radio stations in the UK.

Most of the actors in the film are rather obscure but all are well cast. The plot is silly and rambles but it has its moments, particularly watching flashes of the good UK citizens enjoying the music. The sound track is pure 60’s all the way and weaves its way into the proceedings. There is some truly funny but typically British dry humor and because of the accents you have to be quick to catch it. It was entertaining and enjoyable although not stellar acting. A bit of enjoyable fluff and more than a few good laughs.

Which brings me to how history tends to repeat itself. The exact same scenario is happening today, right now with bootleg peer-to-peer movement of movies and songs over the Internet. The Pirate Bay (www.piratebay.com) is the world’s largest repository grey area downloading, and the most visible promoter of a burgeoning international anti-copyright movement, said to have over 25 million unique peers and almost 4 million registered users. Although mired in multiple lawsuits, they continue to swashbuckle at this moment.

Rock and Roll is the perfect substrate for piracy. Were there no piracy, there would probably be no rock and roll. Rock and Roll is by its nature rude, irreverent, disrespectful and contemptuous of authority. The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman) encapsulates as the ship begins to sink:

“To all our listeners, – God bless you all. And as for you bastards
in charge, don’t dream it’s over. Years will come, years will go, and
politicians will do all to make the world a better place. But all over
the world, young men and young women will always dream dreams
and put those dreams into song. Nothing important dies tonight,
just a few ugly guys on a crappy ship. The only sadness tonight
is that, in future years, there’ll be so many fantastic songs that
it will not be our privilege to play. But, believe you me, they will
still be written, they will still be sung and they will be the wonder
of the world”.

Post Script: Meat Loaf (Bat out of Hell II -Back into Hell) (2002)-

“So, I took my guitar and I smashed it against the wall,
I smashed it against the body of a varsity cheerleader,
I smashed it against a 1981 Harley Davidson.
The Harley howled in pain.
The guitar howled in heat.
And I ran up the stairs to my parents’ bedroom
I raised the guitar high above my head,
and just as I was about to bring the guitar crashing
down upon the centre of the bed, My father woke up screaming: “Stop! Stop it boy! What do you think you’re doing? That’s no way to treat an expensive musical instrument!” And I said “Dammit Dad! You know I love you, but you’ve got a hell of a lot to learn about rock and roll!”

I give it three of five power chords strangling a Shure PGX14-85-J6 microphone.

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