Friday, May 12, 2023

A riot of 80s music and fashion

For a couple of 80s fashion and music fans, the new Sky Max series A Town Called Malice went down very well in the Music Therapy studio.

The pre-publicity would have you believe it’s Dallas meets Pulp Fiction soundtracked by Duran Duran. Neil described it as Eldorado with effing and jeffing. 

It ticked a lot of my boxes because it was basically a high camp crime thriller set in the early 1980s in the Costa del Sol.

Obviously the name is a giveaway - named after the Jam classic tune - and there’s a Weller cameo early on, but music plays a massive part of A Town Called Malice.

In a bit of a hat-tip to films like LaLa Land the characters break into song and dance routines and every episode ends with a classic '80s music video.

Talking about the soundtrack, creator Nick Love said: "There’s nothing better to give you memories.

"Part of it, obviously, is just me getting my rocks off by using the music that I love. But it is more than that. It’s really evocative for people. We’ve tried to do more than just turn it into a jukebox soundtrack."

Love added: "The prerequisite for me was always: it’s not about the lyrics, it’s about the feeling, it’s about the mood. The Clash’s 'I Fought the Law' obviously speaks to that moment in the series in particular. But you’ve also got to remember that while people of my generation know The Clash, anyone who’s under 40 won’t.

"You have to emotionally earn the moment to make it resonate. As the show develops, it gets more and more emotional, and we use more ballads. So it’s not just about putting a song out for the song’s sake. It’s always about earning it."

Love also did a great job dripping some reggae into the soundtrack to accentuate one storyline.

Director Jamie Donoughue, who has a background in music videos, added: "From the beginning, Nick and I talked about this being a music show.

"Everything is driven by the beat of the music. So the camera moves on the beat, the cuts move on the beat and everything feels like we’re on a journey."

The series follows the Lords - a family of South London gangsters who've fallen to the bottom of the criminal food chain.

After fleeing to the Costa del Sol, the family believes this is a golden opportunity to re-invent themselves and recapture their former glory. It has a bit of a crossover with The Business, a feature film directed by the writer and producer Nick Love.

"It was a small film that punched above its weight," said Love.

"Once people started migrating from film to television, I thought to myself, 'I can imagine a TV show based on a similar world to The Business'.

"If you could make a show about the same sort of heady world, then I could see that connecting with an audience because that film was made on a shoestring budget and performed really well.

"There was also the fact that the film was made when I was younger and my storytelling prowess wasn’t quite as elegant as it is now. And so there was a sense of wanting to go back and do a better job."

Molly Emma Rowe was the costume designer on the series and she worked with specialists such as Neil Primette from '80s Casual Classics and sportswear collectors to capture the look.

Rowe got the "Holy Trio of Fila, Sergio Tacchini and Ellese", incredible Adidas pieces from our mate

Gary Aspden, a fellow Blackburn Rovers fan and a curator of the street fashion look, and I even spotted a couple of Cerrutti 1881, one of the 80s labels that I wore at the time. 

All told, it’s not going to win many awards for its writing, but for the music and styling A Town Called Malice had me watching all the way through to its dramatic end.

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