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  Groupies Follow The Band
Year: 1970
Director: Ron Dorfman, Peter Nevard
Stars: Joe Cocker, Terry Reid, Ten Years After, Spooky Tooth, Cynthia Plaster Caster, various
Genre: Documentary, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: This is a documentary about a very particular rock phenomenon, the groupies, those people who follow a band or rock performer around on their tours with the express intention of sleeping with them, and enjoying the comforts of their lifestyles without actually being part of their official entourage. Performances are mingled with footage of the hangers-on being interviewed, or simply passing the time waiting for the next encounter, and we learn that, for example, in 1969 when this was filmed their most prized boast would be to take John Lennon away from Yoko Ono, or Mick Jagger away from Marianne Faithfull...

Not that you see anyone of that star wattage in this, which takes a haphazard and thrown together approach to a subject that was beginning to be acknowledged in the mainstream around this time. Directors Ron Dorfman and Peter Nevard were looking to make nothing so conventional, but the impression with this is that those shooting the film were as drunk or stoned as those they were recording, with what can best be described as a loose style where the camera sways about as the subjects ramble, occasionally offering up an interesting nugget of information, but more often remaining about as illuminating as you would expect.

This is because even those who are not out of their heads don't have much to say for themselves that provides much insight, indeed it's much as you'd expect a bunch of people whose lives revolve around shagging and getting high would be. It doesn't help that apart from Joe Cocker the bands here are now pretty much forgotten but to the few aficionados; Terry Reid appears, but he's best known for turning down the chance to be in Led Zeppelin than for any of his songs, and while there may be fans of Spooky Tooth and Ten Years After still around, the poor sound recording in this does the bands no favours, being fairly muffled in spite of the well known venues they perform in.

So this was an unmistakably low budget enterprise, and features incredible amounts of self indulgence on the part of the interviewees, but nevertheless it's not a complete dead loss. Mainly this is down to a few laughs to be garnered from the antics on display, as when after we have been told of the existence of male groupies, we see a particularly inebriated example in the person of "Chaz", who after being beaten up (offscreen) tries to put the moves on a politely uninterested Reid. Reid's nervous grin as Chaz drapes himself all over him is pretty funny, but as with much of this there's a pathetic air about much of the action, as it leaves you thinking, "Is that it? That's your life?"

Even when they're not stoned, that's the way much of those here appear, and after yet another spaced out groupie regales us with a tale that falls short of being the revelation about your favourite rock stars you really wanted you're likely to lose patience. There are passing mentions of Jimmy Page (he liked to whip girls, according to this) and Jimi Hendrix, but nobody has that killer anecdote the film so desperately needs: a couple of women assassinating Luther from Spooky Tooth's character does not make for rivetting watching. All the way through, there are allusions to Cynthia Plaster Caster, who made moulds of rock stars' manhoods, but even when she turns up at the end it's a letdown as the conversation with her goes nowhere fast and we get to see about two of the fruits of her labour from across the room. If it wasn't for the concert footage, Groupies would look too much like a home movie to have gained any attention at all.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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