2020 Album Draft- Round 13 Pick 7- Film. Run-Sew-Read selects Pirate Radio/ The Boat That Rocked.
In the mid-1960s, while the British Invasion was permeating the US radio airwaves, things were quite different back in the British homeland, where radio was controlled by the BBC monopoly. BBC Radio played rock and pop music for only about two hours per week. To bring more rock and pop to the airwaves, a few music and broadcasting entrepreneurs established radio stations on ships anchored offshore, that would broadcast rock and pop music to the mainland. It was called ‘pirate radio’.
This movie is an entertaining dramatization of life on a pirate radio ship. The movie is titled ‘PIrate Radio’ in North America; and ‘The Boat That Rocked’ in the UK and Europe. While the movie is captivating for its 1960s wit and nostalgia, the issue of freedom of expression during this time period is a serious underlying theme. The story spans a time period of several months during which the ships went from ‘not actually breaking any laws’, to becoming outlawed by the British government, when it enacted the ‘Marine Offences Act of 1967′. Here’s a movie trailer:
Radio Caroline: The movie is a fictionalized portrayal with an unmistakable resemblance to the most popular pirate radio ship at that time, ‘Radio Caroline’. Radio Caroline, which still broadcasts today, provided props and consultation for the movie.
Back in the 1960s, the Radio Caroline DJs chose the music they wanted to play, and introduced listeners to new music and artists that weren’t being played on BBC. If not for pirate radio in the 1960s, we music listeners might never have heard some of the music that eventually helped define the era. Some of the biggest rock stars confirm this:
–*From Pete Townshend of The Who: “Without Caroline, we would not have sold a single record. … Sometimes the law is more than an ass. Pirates? They were angels.”
–*From Ray Davies of The Kinks: “Radio Caroline was more adventurous than most stations around in its day. It championed bands like the Kinks, who owe much of their early success to Radio Caroline and [DJ] Tom Lodge.”
[Both quotes are from the Radio Caroline website.]
About the movie ending: There are several captivating storylines interwoven in the movie, so no spoilers here, …but when this movie ends, the story isn’t over. Before the credits start to roll, a postscript feature tells the rest-of-the-story of what happened to pirate radio and rock and pop music. The legacy is portrayed with a slideshow of album covers from that time up to the present. You will spot quite a few from our album draft. It’s one of those movies where you’ll be rewarded for staying with it through the credits, until the screen finally goes quiet and dark. The extended postscript and credits can be viewed here.
About the soundtrack: Music from the mid-1960s plays almost continuously throughout the movie, just as it would have been heard all day on the radio. It’s either playing in the forefront, or in the muffled background, as if coming from elsewhere on the ship. It’s too many songs to list them all here, but it’s an extensive who’s who of music on the radio during those years, including The Rolling Stones, Martha & the Vandellas, The Turtles, The Seekers, The Troggs, The Moody Blues, Otis Redding, The Easybeats, Aaron Neville, The Beach Boys, and so many more. It must have been a massive job to secure all of those music rights for the movie. Here is a link to the soundtrack list on https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1131729/soundtrack
About the Marine Offences Act of 1967: Here’s more information. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine,_%26c.,_Broadcasting_(Offences)_Act_1967
About Radio Caroline today: Radio Caroline streams its broadcast from a robust website. They have a superb corps of veteran Djs; some of whom worked on Radio Caroline when it was a pirate radio ship. Each DJ curates his/her own programming, staying true to Radio Caroline’s original mission to discover and play the best music. They play classic rock and pop from their days as a pirate radio ship, as well as current new album releases. I’ve been reacquainted with long-forgotten songs of the 60s and 70s, and maybe more importantly, I’ve been introduced to great new music and artists who I would never hear on my local radio stations, because of their corporate playlists.
The website: http://radiocaroline.co.uk/
The Radio Caroline studio today is land-based, in Kent, UK, but one weekend a month, the DJs broadcast from their old ship, which is permanently moored in the River Blackwater. On those special weekends, the DJs eat, sleep and hang out on the boat, and mix music with their stories and memories from the pirate days. The next Radio Caroline special weekend broadcast is coming up next weekend (November 21-22, 2020). If you enjoy the movie, chances are you’ll enjoy these special broadcasts, too. Information link here: http://radiocaroline.co.uk/#manx_info.html
Along with the internet stream, Radio Caroline now broadcasts legally over the air in parts of the UK, but that is a very recent development. Fifty years after the enactment of the ‘Marine Offences Act of 1967’, the British government granted a radio broadcast license to Radio Caroline. Ironically, it is a frequency formerly assigned to the BBC.