Hail the New Puritan

Looking for Brassneck, Looking for Significance

The Wedding Present

Little by little I’m trying to get at a deep concern I have, some means of responding to what I consider to be a common and pressing situation …

A few years back, I stumbled across the music video for the Wedding Present’s song “Brassneck.” This was that band’s first US hit (well, the version that Steve Albini rerecorded was), and a song I’d always liked well enough, whenever I happened to hear it. (It’s from their second studio album, Bizarro [1989].)

This was my first time seeing the video. I spent a great deal of the late ’80s / early ’90s watching MTV, and YouTube has helped me catch up on what I missed. And what struck me about this one is its dance choreography, which reminded me a great deal of Michael Clark’s work. You’ll recall that I’m a tremendous fan of his, in particular his work in Prospero’s Books and Hail the New Puritan. The more that I watched it, the more I became convinced that Clark had somehow been behind it. And so I emailed the Michael Clark Company, asking them whether I was right.

A Company representative graciously wrote me back:


Film & Music / 8 Comments
March 19th, 2012 / 8:01 am

So Why Have You Not Seen “Hail the New Puritan”?

Mark E. Smith in "Hail the New Puritan" (1987)

When I was a Master’s student at Illinois State University, I helped start and run a film club. We specialized in more obscure cinema. And one film I always wanted to show was Hail the New Puritan (1985–6), a fictionalized documentary by Charles Atlas about the British dancer and choreographer Michael Clark. It’s punk ballet!

The only problem was, I couldn’t find a copy of the film…


Film / 13 Comments
February 20th, 2012 / 8:01 am