While record labels such as Chicago’s Chess Records and Manchester’s Factory have benefited from fictionalized features celebrating their storied histories (“Cadillac Records” and “24 Hour Party People,” respectively), London’s Creation Records has had to settle for unadorned docu “Upside Down.” Not that the label’s fans will complain: Producer-director Danny O’Connor has done them a service not only by securing access to all the principals, but also by exhaustively including many of Creation’s lesser acts. Resulting authentic document won’t turn the world topsy-turvy, but “Upside” should come downstream with solid ancillary.
Founded in 1983 by Glasgow-born Alan McGee, Creation benefited from superior A&R instincts — signing, in succession, the Jesus And Mary Chain (composers of the song that gives the film its title), Primal Scream and Oasis. Good taste and foresight were much needed since, according to “Upside Down,” business acumen and a rigorous work ethic were never at the heart of the project. The Creation gang is variously described as a bunch of “outsiders, chancers and lunatics” and “a random collection of misfits, drug addicts and sociopaths.”
After a brisk setup, pic’s structure is strictly chronological, recounting McGee’s rise from minor musician to concert promoter to unlikely record-company mogul. Well-researched film offers a handy refresher course, even for fans who were paying attention to not-ready-for-primetime acts such as the Loft, Boo Radleys and BMX Bandits. Longer segments on mid-tier successes Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fanclub and the House of Love will resonate with the target audience.
Despite contributions from a few musicians beyond the Creation realm and music journalists, the focus remains narrowly on the story of the label, which was sold to Sony in 1992 to stave off debts, then shuttered in 1999 just as Oasis was at its stadium-playing height. “Trainspotting” author Irvine Welsh brings a welcome larger perspective — the Roman empire, he notes, was never bigger than when it was on the eve of collapse — but overall, “Upside Down” serves as an appropriately detailed nostalgia trip for fans of skinny British white boys with guitars.