The Living Room
is Shane Meadows’ 2015 film about Gavin Clark, a musician and long-time collaborator:
I recently watched This Is England and its TV series follow-ups in a single weekend. (I’m unsure whether to recommend you do the same; my emotions remain utterly shot, not yet reverting to their previous state.) Clark’s music appears in all of Meadows’ work: as a solo artist, and as a member of a few short-lived bands.
The film takes us through Clark’s difficulty with solo live performance, struggling even to play a show for friends and family in his own living room. Meadows made it after finding out that his best mate—the most talented musician he’d ever met—was delivering pizza to make ends meet, his back catalogue having been critically lauded but largely ignored by the public. The idea is that Clark appears in several living rooms to build his confidence before tackling a full tour.
His work is instantly identifiable. Fairly sparse, mostly acoustic instrumentation, nods to blues and folk, disarmingly simple guitar playing, and that voice. The best I can describe it is: it carries the lyrics upwards while simultaneously pulling them down with gravitas and life experience. It’s half choirboy, half fags ‘n whisky. These are awful descriptions, so you should listen to him instead.
If you’ve watched This Is England then you might remember this cover of Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want:
I bought the (only?) Sunhouse album in ’98 after a glowing review in MOJO. I’ve gone through stages over the subsequent years of pulling it out and giving it more spins, always pleased at how it aged so well, always wondering why Clark wasn’t much more famous.
He recorded with UNKLE:
It was only when the credits on This Is England ’90 rolled that I saw the dedication to Clark. He sadly died in February last year, a week after The Living Room was uploaded to YouTube (although it was recorded several years earlier).
Clark had battled addiction to drink and drugs at various points in his life. His final work, with Toydrum, is celebrated as among his best. Time for me to give it a good listen.