Basically, Johnny Moped | Chicago Reader

Basically, Johnny Moped

One of the oddest first-wave British punk bands was Johnny Moped, a genial quartet that dressed like unassuming middle-class guys and whose lead singer (also called Johnny Moped) was mentally ill. This documentary portrait of the group is familiar in its execution, intercutting vintage performance footage with talking-head interviews with surviving band members and friends, but the story is definitely novel and the agreeable tone is hard to resist. Director Fred Burns subtly argues that the band epitomized the punk ethos since they were such misfits they couldn't even conform to punk culture. He's also sensitive in his depiction of the front man’s mental illness; Johnny (real name Paul Halford) seems neither a freak nor a naif, but rather a self-aware individual who used music to make sense of his life.


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