Movies · Music

Serious Drugs – a film about BMX Bandits

Serious drugs BMX Bandits


On 12 December last year I attended the world premiere of Serious Drugs, Jim Burns’ film about the career of BMX Bandits. For the first and probably last time, I was able to personally greet both the director and subject of a film on the red carpet at its premiere – in truth though, rather than a red carpet, it was the pavement outside the Glasgow Film Theatre…

It was a fine film, a labour of love for Jim, who had been personally uplifted by the music of BMX Bandits at a low point in his life. With the co-operation of Duglas Stewart and a selection of current and past members of the band, he had made a low-budget film which only would have been possible with the shrewdest applications of modern digital technology. It took some years, but it was gratifying to see Jim and Duglas being able to take the plaudits from a “live” audience at the Q and A after the film was shown.

While unflinching in exploring the work methods and the motivations which have propelled the Bandits’ twenty-five year (and counting) career, it is also openly celebratory of the positive effects their work has had on many people throughout the world.

The only quibble I had was the absence of any mention of Joe McAlinden, an important member of the band for years as composer, instrumentalist and vocalist. There were a couple of still pictures of the band including him, but it was a bit weird that the co-writer and original singer on none other than the song “Serious Drugs” was written out of the history

The film has gone on to be shown at numerous film festivals and has been roundly praised.

Serious Drugs has just been released on a limited edition DVD which is available to buy here.

9 thoughts on “Serious Drugs – a film about BMX Bandits

  1. Was Joe McAlinden the singer on Serious Drugs? I was always under the impression that it was Norman Blake (and it sounds like him to my ears.) I’m not correcting you – I really don’t know.


    1. Nevermind – when you mentioned an original version of Serious Drugs, I thought you meant Norman’s version which preceded the Other Mix version with Duglas Stewart. I didn’t know that there was an even earlier one with Joe McAlinden.


    2. Hi Rocky, thanks for your interest.
      Joe sang the original version of Serious Drugs on the “Life Goes On” album, but the label who had his band Superstar under contract in the USA objected to his vocal being used on the single – hence Norman’s lead vocal on the single version.


      1. Thanks for the reply. Sorry to keep on asking about this song (it’s one of my favorites), but I’m wondering about the Other Mix version of Serious Drugs. Who is playing on this? Is it a remix? If so, does that mean there’s another version with Duglas Stewart on vocals that I don’t know about? Thanks.


  2. No problem. As far as I know, there are only the two studio versions of Serious Drugs – the version on “Life Goes On” with Joe on lead vocal and the single version with Norman on lead vocal. I’m sure they are the same track (the two sound identical to me,) – the only difference is the replaced lead vocal. I don’t know of a version with Duglas on vocals.
    Back then it was not inconceivable that it would have been a hit single, so SBK’s refusal to allow the release of the version with Joe wasn’t as outrageous as it appears now.


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