Nick Moran's film, based on the stage-play he wrote with James Hicks, is an eccentric, sometimes underpowered but always watchable story about the early-60s prehistory of pop culture.

It's roughly the Larkinesque era between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles' first LP - although it actually extends to 1967. Joe Meek, played by Con O'Neill, was the legendary British record producer who churned out a string of hits from his ramshackle flat in London's Holloway Road, before succumbing to debt, paranoia and suicidal depression triggered by a prosecution for indecency and fuelled by his addiction to prescription drugs.

As the neglected genius he very probably was, Meek pioneered new hi-tech experiments in recording, and his No 1 hit Telstar even anticipated the freaky-deaky world of psychedelia. But poor, misunderstood Meek was a man before his time in both life and death. He ended up by shooting his landlady and turning the gun on himself - a bizarre echo of the recent crime of Phil Spector.

I got the impression that Nick Moran would have liked a bigger budget to recreate his early-60s world, but he resourcefully does a lot with not too much. O'Neill is convincing as the neurotic control-freak Meek, and Kevin Spacey is an amusing supporting turn as his business partner, a blustering ex-military type called Major Banks.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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