I first heard of the transgressive music group Throbbing Gristle through my love of Siouxsie and the Banshees. I also bought the book about them, Wreckers of Civilization by Simon Ford when I lived in London. Shortly after this TG’s back catalogue was remastered and I lapped it up.
For years I hoped for a documentary about this remarkable band. This happened in 2020 and I was due to see it as part of the Leeds International Film Festival but this screening was cancelled due to COVID.
But good ol’ YouTube has the documentary on its platform. This is actually the hour-long version shown on the BBC (a longer 88 min version is the theatrical feature length).
The story of the band goes like this- Genesis P Orridge is a student in Hull who meets Christine Newby who renames herself as Cosey Fanni Tutti. They both perform as part of COUM Transmissions performing art actions either as part of art festivals or just on the mean streets of Hull. They then leave Hull (or you could say they were run out of town), move to London and hold the art show Prostitution which offers a retrospective of COUM but also signifies the first performance of their new music outfit, Throbbing Gristle which also includes artist Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson and synth whizz Chris Carter. This show proves to be massively controversial due to its transgressive content and they manage to make the front page of every national and local newspaper in the UK. A Tory MP who was at the exhibition dubs them the ‘Wreckers of Civilisation.’ TG then go on to release albums whilst performing gigs and examining taboo subjects whilst making some of the most genre-pushing music ever created.
On seeing this Other, Like Me for the first time, I’m astounded at how good it is. I knew that TG member Genesis P Orridge had organised his/her archive of Coum Transmissions/Throbbing Gristle ephemera and the documentary dips into this brilliantly. There’s a lot of photographic and video material regarding the bands that I had never seen before which is a revelation.
This isn’t a complete history as that would take hours more to fully document. Cosey’s autobiography Art, Sex, Music is a good place to investigate further as is Gen’s book Non-Binary but Other, Like Me is a very good place for the curious or the already devoted to venture.
Other, Like Me is an incredible time-capsule as to the truly transgressive artists who were working in the more permissive sixties and seventies but without their work being edgy just for the sake of it but rather a band of artists who were genuinely curious as to certain subject matters and were intent on poking holes in society as we know it.
5 stars out of 5