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Video: The complete and utter history of pop music in Sheffield

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WHEN the recently reformed Pulp appeared at the Glastonbury Festival they found a new generation of fans, while many who remember the first time Jarvis Cocker took to the stage welcomed the return.

But the gig could also herald a major comeback for a couple who have dedicated a decade of their lives to the city’s pop and rock scenes, after they made their first documentary about its stars and less well-known characters in 2001.

Eve and Richard Wood run Sheffield Vision, a company which makes videos for corporate clients, but their real love is the music Sheffield has made for 40 years, and the stories of those behind it.

Their films have already won critical acclaim, but they believe a resurgence of interest sparked by the Pulp revival and new work by the Arctic Monkeys will net a wider audience for their latest work.

Mr Wood and his Amsterdam-born wife run their business from the Workstation in Sheffield’s Paternoster Row, opposite the former National Centre for Popular Music, which is now a students’ union.

Their latest film is a follow-up to 2010’s The Beat is the Law, entitled The Beat is the Law - A Fanfare for the Common People, featuring the story of Pulp’s rise from unknowns to the stars of 1995.

Mr Wood said: “The timing couldn’t be better for us. Sheffield is well-known for its music and has produced some amazing bands. But the Pulp revival and the latest work from the Arctic Monkeys has really put the focus on us again.”

Sheffield Vision’s first film, the 2001 release Made in Sheffield, started the company’s association with the Steel City’s bands and stemmed from a chance meeting Mrs Wood had a mother and toddler group.

There she met Saskia Cocker, sister of Jarvis, and Joanne Catherall, a singer with the Human League, and they began talking about how some of Sheffield’s music events had never been documented.

She said: “Richard had told me about the Sheffield music scene of the 1980s and we had seen Pulp, Moloko and other Sheffield bands in Amstedam.

“But from talking to Joanne, Saskia and people we met through them, we realised there was a lot of great music from Sheffield but nothing had ever been made about it.”

The 2001 film tells the story of The Extras, who were described as “the band of Sheffield” in the late 1970s, commanding bigger audiences than the emerging rock titans Dire Straits.

It also tells how the early members of the Human League finally left the band, going on to form Heaven 17, and the frustration of other bands who never quite “made it”.

The first instalment of Beat is the Law made in 2010 was supposed to be am all-encompassing work, but Mr Wood said this year’s follow-up film had become necessary because the field became too big to cover in one film.

He added: “We had a vague notion that maybe it would be a good idea to do something on Sheffield music but it was too big a project to do in one go. You couldn’t do it justice.”

Music Press writers have given the latest film rave reviews, declaring it “compelling for anyone interested in recent music history” and “not only excellent pop history but compelling social history too”.

It includes footage from one of the last interviews given by Radio 1 DJ and champion of the independent music scene John Peel.

Peel agreed to be filmed at his home in Suffolk by Mrs Wood to talk about some of his favourite Sheffield bands, and parts of that are used in several sections of their productions.

Musicians interviewed for the films also tell stories of how sounds of the nearby steelworks would often enhance, but occasionally disrupt rehearsals and recordings in disused buildings.

They also recall how during the miners’ strike of 1984, touring bands in South Yorkshire were questioned by police who were suspicious that young men in vans were flying pickets.

Both the 2001 and 2010 films recently appeared on the specialist satellite television channel Sky Arts, which was running a week of films based in and around Sheffield.

Mr and Mrs Wood said that national exposure helped them secure the support for their latest work, along with their access to some of the stars of Sheffield music, including Cocker and Richard Hawley.

Mr Wood said the couple were now confident that there was an audience keen to see their work and added: “The publicity surrounding Made in Sheffield and The Beat is the Law has been a defining moment for us.

“We now aim to continue documenting the music of the last four decades.”

Firm has worked with top names

Sheffield Vision was formed in 2001 by Eve and Richard Wood and has released five films on DVD about the city and its music.

It has worked with musicians including Pulp, the Longpigs, Richard Hawley, ABC, Heaven 17, the Human League and Cabaret Voltaire.

Other films follow the progress of a band called Pink Grease, between 2003 and 2007 as they attempted to become a major success and a documentary about a band called Artery, which played in the city in the late 1970s and early 1980s who reformed in 2007.

More information on the company’s work can be found at its website where the DVDs of its films are also available to buy.

 

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