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USA 2017
Directed by
April Jones
78 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Mentors: Kings Of Sleaze Rockumentary

In the mid-1960s when five nice young men calling themselves The Rolling Stones appeared on the British music scene the moral majority went into convulsions over what appeared to it is as a symptom of, as Penelope Spheeris’s 1981 documentary on the punk movement had it, The Decline of Western Civilization.  By the late '70s the Stones were washed up both as a creative force and standard bearers of rebellion but a Seattle band called The Mentors, formed in 1976 in the wake of the English punk scene, were boldly carrying on rock's noble tradition, expressed so eloquently by Jack Black in School of Rock (2003), of “Stickin’ it to the man”.

Although not mentioned in Spheeris’s excellent documentary, The Mentors whose founder members were drummer and lead singer Eldon Hoke ("El Duce" ), lead guitar Eric Carlson (Sickie Wifebeater), and bass guitar Steve Broy (Dr Heathen Scum), achieved a good deal of notoriety playing what they called “rape rock” - a hybrid of punk and what would become known as thrash metal - kitted out in home-made cartoon executioners’ hoods and distinguished principally by their provocatively scatological and direly sexist lyrics.

First-time director April Jones’s relatively short and somewhat misleadlingly titled (the band is more outrageous than sleazy) documentary about the band holds no surprises as it comprehensively charts The Mentors’ astonishingly long history (they remain active today) of making music (they actually could play their instruments), behaving badly (Hoke who died in 1997, in particular) and the usual assortment of burn-outs and line-up changes.  

But while all this will be of interest to various groupods of fans, whether of the band or punk/thrash metal in general, the film’s most stimulating achievement for the general viewer is the contribution it makes to issues of censorship, civil liberties and the moral good.  Watching the film and listening to the band's ostensibly reprehensible yet strangely waggish songs such questions are never far from one’s mind. On the surface, The Mentors may seem to be the gutter trash of 20th century popular music but don’t forget that The Rolling Stones were once regarded as malevolent agents of moral corruption.




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