Pirates take the airwaves

12 11 2009

Pirate Radio, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, opens this weekend.   The film is based on the true story of Wonderful Radio London, a ship-based, offshore British pirate radio station that operated from December 1964 to August 1967.  The floating radio station, also known as Big L, was created to provide popular music to rock-starved British music fans.  Apparently in those days, the BBC, the UK’s state run (monoply) radio and TV, played little rock and roll, creating a demand real radio.

Wonderful Radio London, it seems to me, was something of a precursor to the eventual explosion of FM radio in America, driven by the demand for rock and roll and more artistic forms of music and expression.  The story of Radio London is quite fascinating and there are a few books on the subject.

I do not know how accurate the movie is.  Certainly the soundtrack music doesn’t match the time during which Wonderful Radio London was in operation.  But movie soundtracks are created more for mood and tone — and to sell albums — than for historical accuracy.  Worrying about whether the music fits the period probably misses the larger point of the film.

Check out the trailer.




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