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Klein, Andrew (Director)
Tuff Luck (DVD)
November 2015
Released: 2015, Velocity Films
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP

The Velocity Publishing group is continuing to do some good work continuing to keep the flame of the 80’s alive. Following on the heels of their Randy Rhoads book coffee-table book and Randy Rhoads DVD (both of which I have reviewed on this site) they are back with a new full-length feature film called TUFF LUCK.

TUFF LUCK were a hard rocking melodic Metal band in the 80’s from the Florida area who almost made it…but not quite. The DVD comes in one of those slim-line cases with a single page insert and not much info. The movie runs about 97 minutes and includes some bonus footage and an entire concert with slightly better than average bootleg footage. The footage is mostly interviews inter-spliced with concert footage and still shots of old photos and clippings. Someone did a pretty good job of archiving all the info as there is quite a bit of material to see. The soundtrack is of course very rocking!

The director Andrew Klein (of Velocity Publishing/Films) is the younger brother of the original drummer of the band Todd Kelly. Kelly was brutally murdered by thugs while working and trying to protect his co-workers. This is perhaps Klein’s tribute to his brother and a crime that really broke the spirit of the up and coming but struggling, band. The story follows the history of the band and interviews all the key players and some fans and roadies and parents. While technically nothing is wrong with the film it is a bit dull as the story of a ‘local garage/bar that were awesome in their own backyard but never made it to the big time’ it has been told a million times in every city across North America from 1985-1995. Big fish in little pond syndrome I suppose. The segment discussing the senseless murder of Kelly is heartfelt and adds a bit of dramatic tension without exploiting the sad circumstances. The band members live on in seemingly average jobs in a standard middle-class suburban environments answering the age-old question of whatever happens to these wild rockers who never do make it?

The band had a couple of chances to grab the brass ring after talking to the legendary Jason Flom Atlantic and to Mike Varney at Shrapnel, who recognized the bands raw talent. The segment with Flom was revealing, realistic and even perhaps a bit painful because he said he thinks (he has a tough time recalling) he didn’t sign them because there were so many bands that looked and sounded exactly the same back then. It is perhaps a tacit admission that maybe the band came a little too late to the party, victims of timing rather than lack of talent, because Varney of Shrapnel on the other hand praised the band and offered them a (allegedly poor) deal, which the band refused. Eventually the only real recorded legacy was their 1987 debut on the underground label New Renaissance and a lesser known second album in 1993 that was swept away in a tidal wave of grunge.

This film reminds me a bit of the Tension documentary. It focuses on an obscure band that very few remember today but the story is no less interesting. I recall reading about Tuff Luck (and Cryer) back in an old issue of Metal Maniacs which did a spotlight on the underground Florida and I was always curious about them. Now thanks to the movie the bands legacy is preserved. They were truly a band that lived up their name.
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» Tuff Luck (DVD)
by JP

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