The Fabulous Emptywheel Music Blog: Setting The Scene

Okay, alright, enough of that live music stuff. This weekend, off another suggestion by Emptywheel Roving Reporter Rosalind, let’s do music documentaries! These are her remarks:

Music Documentaries (NOT films of live concerts). In 2019 there were several docs I watched that hit the music EW demographic sweet spot, including:

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice
David Crosby: Remember My Name
Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool
Boy Howdy: The CREEM Magazine Story
Mr. Jimmy – story of a Japanese guitar player who takes his Jimmy Page hero-worship to a whole nother level
Echo In The Canyon – Laurel Canyon music scene, 1/2 OK interviews w/various musicians, 1/2 self-indulgent concert featuring Jakob Dylan performing boring versions of the originals.

The Gordon Lightfoot and Miles Davis docs are ones I would never have thought to seek out and sparked a whole new level of appreciation for the two. The footage of their early musical lives is really something.

Rock on.

The Linda Ronstadt one is truly fabulous. I’ll have to look for the Gordon Lightfoot one, but have always loved him. Heard Carefree Highway long ago, and that sits awfully special to people here that actually drive on the Carefree Highway (yes, it really exists).

I’d like to add one music documentary to Rosalind’s list: Super Duper Alice Cooper. It is truly fantastic. You may think “eh, I dunno, that’s crazy”, but it is really good and, I think, available streaming online. And, yes all crazy, but those were the times back then, it “was” crazy.

Also, because this will invariably morph into the greatest music documentaries ever, let me throw in a couple of Scorsese classics: The Last Waltz and Shine The Light.

So have at it, whether music, the NFL draft or whatever. This weekend’s scene setting music is…..You Set The Scene by the incomparable Arthur Lee and Love.

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129 replies
  1. Chetnolian says:

    Don’t know if this counts, but I’ve just enjoyed Rich Hall’s “Countrier than You”, a brief foray from 2017 through the origins and development of Country Music. BBC, but I am sure everyone can find it. Really worth watching for its history. Plus some shots of Austin which is another place I’m not going this year!

  2. Sonso says:

    Glen Campbell – I’ll Be Me (heartbreaking story of dementia and family)
    The Jam – About the Young (loads of good Weller docs, but this one focuses more on The Jam)
    Searching for Sugarman (Sixto Rodriguez – lost South African pop giant)
    Michael Brecker – More to Live (short, and Mike is only one of three subjects, but, if you aren’t already on the bone marrow registry, this will give you the incentive).
    Guns for Hire (depressing, but true, stories of R&R sidemen. Especially incriminating towards Billy Joel).
    20 Ft. from Stardom (Merry Clayton…nuff said)

    • bmaz says:

      Oh yeah, 20 Feet From Stardom is spectacular. How in the world did I forget that?? Not just Merry Clayton, but Lisa Fischer too!

      And spot on about I’ll Be Me on Glen Campbell. It is truly heartbreaking, and yet a fantastic doc. Also, and I think Rosalind would agree, The Wrecking Crew is a must watch.

      • rosalind says:

        Wrecking Crew: agreed! Carol Kaye on her badass bass.
        Muscle Shoals: more sidemen!
        Only The Strong Survive: Stax Records doc – Rufus & Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding…

      • bmaz says:

        Adding on to 20 Feet From Stardom….really, it is great, find it and watch it. Merry Clayton did the backing vocals on Gimme Shelter. She got a cold call to go do some vocals. At night and quite pregnant, she went, stood and delivered. It is an amazing story. Lisa Fischer did much more of the later touring and she is equally spectacular. Watch Lisa at work.

    • rosalind says:

      yes, 20 Feet Fm Stardom!! one of my favorite soundtracks to sing along to on road trips. and a sad coda: a few months after the film’s release Merry Clayton was in a horrible car accident and had both her legs amputated below the knee. i know she was hoping to return to the stage. anyone know if she succeeded?

      • Sonso says:

        Not yet. Jazz Foundation of America did a great fundraiser at the Apollo a few years back (with Keith Richards, Lisa Fischer, and Steve Jordan), and, unfortunately, she was unable to attend. She gets no residuals from the Stones record, but everyone copies her.

  3. paulpfixion says:

    Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives

    It’s a documentary about the lead singer of the Eels, Mark Everett. His dad is Hugh Everett, the Princeton physicist who invented the many worlds theory of quantum physics. Mark never knew anything about his dad’s work until long after he died. This documentary is about how the singer explores who his dad was and explains how his relationship with his dad affected his music.

    It’s absolutely amazing.

  4. misteranderson says:

    The Linda Ronstadt documentary helped me rediscover her. I loved the Chicago documentary. When I was a kid in the 70’s I listened to Chicago’s greatest hits album over & over. As an Oregon Duck fan I hope Justin Herbert has a great career at LA. It’s been so long since an Oregon QB has actually turned out in the NFL.

  5. Peterr says:

    Not quite in the same league as the list above, but if you’re looking for a bit of laughter after that Glen Campbell documentary . . .

    The Rutles: All You Need is Cash

    Trailer here

  6. DrFunguy says:

    In the shadow of Motown
    Revelatory film about the legendary “funk brothers’ – back up band to so many of Motown’s greats.
    Woman of heart and mind. Joni Mitchell documentary featuring extended interviews Joni.
    I agree- echos in the canyon would have been better without the mediocre Jakob… uninformed narrator and pop flop.

  7. Eric Matthies says:

    20,000 Days On Earth – Nick Cave
    Beware of Mr. Baker – Ginger Baker
    Music is the Weapon – Fela
    Westway To The World – The Clash

    • bmaz says:

      The Ginger Baker one is seriously great. And also slightly disturbing at the same time. He was a different kind of guy.

    • Sonso says:

      Fela! Yes, yes, yes. Fela ‘70 (the best) and the great King Sunny Ade. 6 hour shows with no break. Sweat pouring from your eyes. If you want to know what music-revolution is, get yourself informed on Fela.

  8. Eric Matthies says:

    A few’bonus’ tracks –
    The Wrecking Crew – about the mainly unknown team of ace session players who you’ve heard on more albums than you’d think.
    Heartworn Highways – outlaw country before it was outlaw
    Dig – conflict and chaos in the rise and fall of two LA favorites
    The Decline Of Western Civilization – some would say the penultimate punk doc
    A Band Called Death – forgotten punk legends, and first all-black punk group
    I Am Trying To Break Your Heart – Wilco
    Agile, Mobile, Hostile: A Year With Andre Williams* – another little known artist who deserves some attention, caveat – I co-directed/produced this one.

  9. RMD says:

    PBS has some very good musician docu-interviews on Articulate hosted by Jim Cotter
    Pianist Simone Dinnerstein
    Celebrated pianist Simone Dinnerstein, in concert and conversation, with Jim Cotter.
    https://video.wgbh.org/video/pianist-simone-dinnerstein-4v5aw5/
    She is stunning in her virtuosity, esp. w/ Bach, Mozart, Schubert.

    Guitarist Jason Vieaux
    World-renowned classical guitarist Jason Vieaux in concert, and in conversation with Jim Cotter in front of a live audience.
    https://video.wgbh.org/video/articulate-jason-vieaux/
    Wonderful. See his Prince interpretation on classical guitar.

    Nicola Benedetti
    Nicola Benedetti: A Great Scot. The internationally renowned Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti was cast into the spotlight at age 16, forced to grow up in the public eye, she often struggled. Now in her 30s, she looks back on those years with wry humor.
    https://video.wgbh.org/video/nicola-benedetti-great-scot-1olxej/

    Caroline Shaw
    Caroline Shaw is one of the most original new voices in contemporary music, who’s cooking up some very fine music across a wide swathe of genres.
    https://video.wgbh.org/video/the-incomparable-l390or/

    Ken Burns: Jazz, Country. Worthy series.

    NB: One needs to have a PBS account to access some of these streaming shows.

  10. Tim says:

    Even if you don’t like the music, or perhaps, especially if you don’t like the music:
    Rush: Time Stand Still

    Anvil! The Story of Anvil

    And, goes without saying: This is Spinal Tap

  11. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Hmmmm…

    I don’t see ‘Tom Dowd and the Language of Music’ mentioned in anybody’s list so far, so I’ll put it out there.

    Mr Dowd was an extremely interesting man… the producer for Layla and the Allman Bros Live at the Fillmore, amongst many, many other albums for Atlantic…

    At one point in the documentary, he goes into a recording studio, cues, up the original multi-track tape of the song Layla, and starts playing the individual tracks so you can hear the guitar parts on their own… worth the price of admission alone.

    Added bonus… Dowd was a teenage physics whiz and was recruited by the US military to work on the Manhattan Project… the documentary has some of the best atomic bomb explosion footage you’ll ever seen in it… frightening stuff…

    Also, ‘Bob Dylan, Don’t Look Back’…

    And then there’s the various American Blues Festival films, from the mid-60’s… not exactly documentaries, just really first rate footage of people like Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters performing in Europe…

      • bmaz says:

        Yes, indeed he did on the original studio album and did a little early touring with Derek and the Dominoes.

        • TooLoose LeTruck says:

          Some of the playing back and forth on the studio album is some of my favorite guitar work of all time…

          Just listening to Allman and Clapton talking to each other thru their guitars… I suppose other musicians can be that good, but I can’t imagine anything better…

    • Sonso says:

      Agreed on the Tom Dowd film; the scene where he recreates Layla from the ground up is beyond the beyond – an entire education in modern music in 5 minutes.

      • dimmsdale says:

        Tom Dowd was truly all over the place, sorta like Kilroy. He was chief engineer at Atlantic records in the very early days; brought in the first-ever 8-track recorder (borrowed from Les Paul, I believe) to do a Ray Charles session (this is ‘documented’ in the biopic “Ray” and is true AFAIK). The doc on him is full of those “good lord, he did THAT???” moments that I love so much.

        • TooLoose LeTruck says:

          Yes, Les Paul did have the first 8-track recorder!

          And he got it from the US Army, who picked it up in Germany as WW 2 was ending…

          I was lucky enough to see Les Paul live twice… the first time was the 1974 concert at Carnegie Hall that also had George Benson with a very young Earl Klugh on stage w/ him…

          All the guitarists (5 in all) came on stage at the end for one final jam and Les blew ’em all away…

          The 2nd time I saw Paul was in 1976 in SF, at a small, now defunct club (the Old Waldorf) doing a solo gig… I sat thru both shows and just managed to catch the last bus back to the East Bay around 1:30 in the morning…

          He had this little box attached to his guitar he called the Les Paul-verizer that allowed him to multi-track himself in real time… he used it to lay down one track after another as he played along w/ the multiple tracks until it sounded like there were 4 people on stage, playing together…

          Boy, was I ever a fan…

            • TooLoose LeTruck says:

              Bill Gibbons? Is that ZZ Top?

              That sounds wonderful…

              I saw ZZ Top in college… before the beards…

              I always thought the beards were one of the great marketing gimmicks of all time…

              They never age on stage, and off stage the beards come off and they can all go out in public and no one ever recognizes them…

              Brilliant…

            • person1597 says:

              Regrettably, missed Billy Gibbons playing in Encinitas recently. Hopefully, in the aftermath, there will be more such shows.

          • Sonso says:

            Les was salt of the earth; I was lucky to do some events with him in the early aughts. He lived in New Jersey, just a super humble guy with zero pretense.

  12. MB says:

    Summer ’82: When Zappa Came to Sicily (2013)

    Zappa’s children travel to Sicily to connect with long-lost relatives. Also documents the disastrous
    1982 concert in Palermo where a full-fledged riot broke out when disgruntled fans stormed the far-away stage in a cavernous soccer stadium and the police and army were called in to deal with it.

    • Sambucus says:

      I miss Zappa terribly. My late step-father actually poured concrete at his house (he worked for a company in Hollywood, did a lot of star’s homes, including Barbra Streisand’s). He said Zappa was really down to earth and offered him a beer.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      Ha! I love that movie…

      ‘Venus DeMilo’…

      ‘Shark Sandwich’… “more like shit sandwich’… “he can’t say that, can he?”

      And the all-time classic… “it goes to 11, man… it goes to 11…”

  13. DrFunguy says:

    Almost forgot: Pete Seeger’s Rainbow Quest was a 60’s TeeVee series where he brought on musicians to perform, interview and jam.
    My favorite episode features Rev. Gary Davis, plus Donovan and his sitar player. Its fun to watch Donovan’s stunned expression watching the Reverend’s unique fingerpicking riffs. Other episodes feature Brownie and Sonny, Johnny and June Cash, etc.

  14. OldTulsaDude says:

    One of my favorites: Runnin’ Down a Dream. Documentary of Tom Petty in which he came across as just a great guy who might have been your neighbor.

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        Muscle Shoals… isn’t that where Duane Allman did a lot of his studio work before the ABB took off so big?

        Isn’t that where Wilson Pickett recorded his monumental version of “Hey Jude” w/ Duane playing the hell out of the guitar part?

          • TooLoose LeTruck says:

            Haven’t seen it and from what I do know about Muscle Shoals as a musical epicenter in this country, I can imagine it’s well worth the effort…

            I remember someone, maybe Steve Cropper (?), talking about recording at Stax in Memphis, back in the early 60’s… they were working in an old movie theater (is what I remember) and the theater had speakers outside, in what had once been the entrance to the theater where you bought a ticket…

            When they had recorded a song, they’d play it back thru the speakers out front, and if little old ladies walking down the street would stop to listen, then start dancing, they knew they had a hit…

            I miss the old days…

            • dimmsdale says:

              Fortuitiously enough, the Muscle Shoals documentary is up on YT at this moment, in its entirety, in stunning 1080p. Beautifully shot, atmospheric as hell. I think there may have been ONE ad to mar the continuity. Well worth your time!!

      • e.a.f. says:

        Watched the Muscle Shoals documentary several times and each time its a wonder! amazing.the music, the people.

    • bmaz says:

      Heh, the first time I saw Tom Petty was pretty early. He was warm up for either the Tubes or Be Bop Deluxe (outside chance early Van Halen) at a medium sized local joint called the Celebrity Theater. Delivered an okay warm up set, but not great. And Petty could barely play guitar (I honestly thought I could do better, and I sucked on guitar). Didn’t think he had much of a future. Boy did I get that all wrong!

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        I wasn’t a fan until the doc. He made a fan of me because he was so straightforward and unpretentious – and a songwriter.

      • e.a.f. says:

        Saw Petty at the Coluseum In Vancouver, must have been the very early 90s. Great show. hadn/t been a fan until then.

  15. Skilly says:

    I am going to go with The Police: around the world. This footage of the bands rise from nothing to huge superstar status in a very short time was all shot by the drummer’s brother, and band manager Miles Copeland. I first saw it in the spring of 1983, in a questionable bar in Amsterdam. Although already a fan of the music, the documentary added fuel to the fire of the band. Their high energy act was free of glamour or artifice. At least it was in those years. That time was also a transition away from disco, glam rock, prog rock, and the burial of the 60’s.

    Anyway, it was a bar in Amsterdam, so my memory might be a little hazy.

  16. RMD says:

    Murray Lerner’s ‘Festival’: A Prototype for the Music Documentary

    It is difficult to imagine what 1960s popular music would have looked like without the Auricon camera. The lightweight, sync-sound camera revolutionized documentary filmmakers’ ability to flexibly and spontaneously observe their subjects. While initially designed for news camerapersons, the Auricon was quickly embraced — and toyed with — by an emerging generation of observational filmmakers including Robert Drew, Richard Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker, Albert and David Maysles, Howard Alk and Murray Lerner. The Auricon was there when Jimi Hendrix lit his guitar on fire and Janis Joplin brought the house down with “Ball and Chain” at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. The Auricon was there when John Lennon made his return to live performance at the 1969 Toronto Rock and Roll Revival. The Auricon was there when teenager Meredith Hunter was killed by a member of the Hell’s Angels in front of The Rolling Stones at Altamont. And as Lerner’s Festival (1967) shows, the Auricon was there much earlier, when Bob Dylan arose as a generational spokesperson for the folk revival, only to soon make the sin of embracing the electric guitar.

    Festival depicts the American folk revival of the 1960s through observing the annual Newport Folk Festival between 1963 and 1966.

    editor Alan Heim states in The Criterion Collection’s new program about the film’s making, Lerner continually re-edited the film in post-production for an extended period, and did not give in to seeing its completion until urged by Heim. When Festival was first theatrically released in December 1967, it was on the coattails of another, higher-profile documentary featuring Bob Dylan, Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back, the events of which look place after Dylan’s performances at Newport.
    By comparison, Lerner’s portrait of Dylan looked positively dated. While
    Festival captured the event of Dylan “going electric” in 1965, Don’t Look Back featured a contemporaneous Dylan fully settled into his new persona. Festival was already a historical document at the moment of its availability to the public, a portrait of a scene that had in several ways faded and evolved. Popular music culture, it turns out, can easily move at a faster pace than post-production.

  17. diggo says:

    This Aint No Mouse Music
    American Epic
    Dont Look Back
    Hail Hail Rock n Roll
    Bring On The Night
    Rolling Thunder Revue
    Cracked Actor
    Take Me To The River
    Tales From A Cracked Jukebox

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      Ooooh…

      Hail Hail Rock and Roll!

      Chuck berry’s birthday party, if I’m not mistaken?

      Good call…

      I love the scene where he starts arguing w/ Keith Richards…

      “Don’t touch my amp!”

      Also, the old PBS series, “The History of Rock and Roll” is well worth the effort to watch… excellent footage of a lot of early rockers I had listened to for years and years but never seen before that series came out.

  18. RacerX says:

    Heavily recommended: Breadcrumb Trail (2014) is about Slint, particularly their last album Spiderland. Lance Bangs (Being John Malkovich) is the filmmaker.

  19. Jenny says:

    Thanks bmaz. Backstories are always insightful and informative.

    Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music
    The eight-part series explores the art of music recording, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of brand new sounds.
    http://www.pbs.org/soundbreaking/home/

    American Experience: Woodstock
    In August 1969, nearly half a million people gathered at a farm in upstate New York to hear music. What happened over the next three days, however, was far more than a concert.
    https://www.pbs.org/video/chapter-1-woodstock/

  20. Pete T says:

    Dunno if “Straight Out of Compton” counts here and while I don’t really like that genre – and rappin’
    about shooting cops is not my thing though I kind of understand why from their PoV though again I do not condone it – but do I have respect for Ice Cube and Dr. Dre as they present themselves today.

    I have donned me flak jacket.

    • person1597 says:

      Heh. Flack from groundfire was part of the Compton legend and it made this student pilot’s flying lessons all the more realistic. Your first takeoff and landing into Compton’s urban setting is extremely memorable… with or without the archie.

  21. Krisy Gosney says:

    Thanks! A lot of great recommendations here. I’ll add two more: Talking Heads Stop Making Sense and Laurie Anderson Home of the Brave. Love, love, love these two!

    • Sonso says:

      To bring it full circle: as many people here have expressed their love for R&R Animal, Laurie was Lou Reed’s wife for the last 20+ years of his life. She really tempered Lou’s gruffness; always polite and kind (and she loves dogs!).

  22. RMD says:

    The Beatles’ Revelatory White Album Demos: A Complete Guide
    We delve deep into the 1968 home recordings that planted the seeds for the band’s classic self-titled double LP
    https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/the-beatles-revelatory-white-album-demos-a-complete-guide-629178/cry-baby-cry-629195/

    This is a 2018 article, and, sadly, the Youtube links to the song demos have been deactivated, The essays are good.
    Fascinating examination of the songwriting process on a number of Beatles’ songs:

    Cry Baby Cry
    Child of Nature
    The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
    I’m So Tired
    Yer Blues
    Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
    What’s the New Mary Jane
    Revolution
    While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    Circles
    Sour Milk Sea
    Not Guilty
    Piggies
    Julia
    Blackbird
    Rocky Raccoon
    Back in the U.S.S.R.
    Honey Pie
    Mother Nature’s Son
    Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
    Junk
    Dear Prudence
    Sexy Sadie
    Happiness Is a Warm Gun
    Mean Mr. Mustard
    Polythene Pam
    Glass Onion

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      When the Beatles first blew onto the scene, I was still in high school and not a fan. Freshman year at Pratt dropped me into the “Soul Scene” (saw Richie Havens and Bill Withers at some dives somewhere in NYC), and my next door neighbor (who was dating someone from Harlem and snorting heroin for fun) was touting this group called The Doors. One of my friends on the floor had been to the Beatles’ Candlestick concert and I was ready to strangle her if she gushed about them one more time. To get away from all the NYC craziness, I transferred in the Fall to SU, where one of my classmates (and friends) was really into rock music. His brother had a bootleg copy (I never asked how or why) of the White Album, so we jumped on a plane to Boston to listen to it for two days straight. Finally, I thought, they’ve written some decent stuff! ; ^ )

  23. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    I haven’t seen a mention of ‘Festival Express” here…

    Concert film of a noteworthy collection of bands – Grateful Dead, The Band, the Burrito Bros (right after Parsons had left) touring Canada by train in 1970, locked up in litigation for 30 years or so… a little uneven at times, and the best performances are worth the effort…

  24. Rapier says:

    Searching For Sugarman on Netflix may be the best music doc of all time. Weill I am not sure it’s a documentary, it’s a story. (I do suspect he was a severe alcoholic but that shouldn’t detract from the stories of redemption ingrained in this story)

    Rosetta Tharp made into the RR Hall of Fame in 2018 and I’ll be honest I had never known of her. Another in the endless tales about the roots of rock and roll.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      I first came across footage of the Sister in one of the American Folk Blues Festival dvds I mentioned above…

      I had heard the name but never really looked into her…

      She did a song called ‘Didn’t It Rain?’… and she was playing an SG…

      At one point she started playing lead guitar and it was like, “Holy crap… she can really play!”

    • e.a.f. says:

      Looking for Sugarman, the music is great watch the doc. every time it comes on pbs. keep the CD in the vehicle. just an amazing talent.

  25. vvv says:

    I have a hard time with docs about bands – I’m more about the music.
    I have the Christ Whitley one and the Mark Sandman one and the Joe Strummer one and the Nick Cave one, and just can’t get enthused to watch ’em (especially the former) as I love those artists and fear losing some … respect …

    Bonus add-on’s to CD’s (typically about the making of the record), turn out to be my favorites, such as:
    The add-on to The Clash’s *London Calling*
    The add-on to *Exile on Main Street*
    The add-on Son Volt’s *Okemah and the Melody of Riot*
    The add-on to The Cure *The Cure*

  26. gmoke says:

    Sonic Highways is an 8 part series Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters did. They traveled across the country to record a different song in 8 different important recording studios in 8 different cities and explored the music history of each city and each studio along the way. Reveals another sense of the music community that docs like The Wrecking Crew, 20 Feet from Stardom, and others also explore.

    In a way, an elegy for those communities and the recording studios themselves which have often evolved or devolved into a laptop and some audio programs. Hell, I know someone who will be releasing a record on a major label that was recorded off an iPhone.

    • AlfaNovember says:

      Sound City is another Grohl project in a similar vein. As much as I love a good documentary about musicians, my real jam is learning about the studio engineering. Neumann, Neve, Ampex, Altec – tools for capturing magic.

      I’d note to everyone in the US that many of the movies suggested here are available for streaming at no cost via your local library, which may have associations with Hoopladigital, Kanopy, or similar services. I owe my local library a debt of gratitude for getting our family through this time with their online services.

  27. Dicerama says:

    Great list!

    A few of my favorites:
    * We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen – Heartwarming story of this DIY, self-taught, influential jazz-punk band
    * MC5: A True Testimonial – This one is hard to locate
    * Amy (Amy Winehouse)
    * What Happened, Miss Simone? (Nina Simone)

    Concert Films
    * Talking Heads Live in Rome, 1980 – Talking Heads at their peak with Bernie Worell and Andrian Belew on stage
    * Urgh! A Music War – Amazing live compilation of 1980’s punk and new wave bands.

  28. fikshun says:

    The documentaries on the making of Peter Gabriel albums are great. +1 for the Wrecking Crew.

    If you like electronic music, I Dream of Wires is great.

  29. e.a.f. says:

    I’ve seen the Ronstad doc and its good. Lightfoot is a Canadian treasure. His body of work is amazing. When he was young his voice was so amazing. still play his cds while driving up the highway of life. He really is an interesting man.

    Saw a documentary about Dolly Parton also recently. omg she is an amazing talent.

  30. foggycoast says:

    most that i would mention have already been mentioned. So here’s 3 to add that i thought were pretty great:
    1. Cocksucker Blues – Rolling Stones at their peak musically and chemically. I saw them on this tour.
    2. This Is Pop – XTC, a fantastic and underrated band imho. Only saw them once.
    3. Big Star – Alex Chilton and a tragic story.

    And one more that is fictitious but based on some reality:
    1. Frank – Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gillenhall. based on Captain Beefheart and Chris Sievey. I loved this movie/documentary.

    • RMD says:

      Thank you for bringing this movie up. Will check out.
      Last week, I made a mistake in listing my first concert. It was Captain Beefheart at the Paradise on Comm Ave, Boston. 1971.
      As he moved up closer to the mic, trumpet at the ready, someone from the crowd yelled out, “Play something good, man!”
      Beefheart deadpanned, “I’ll tryyy” put the mic directly into the horn, and he just leaned back and BLEW a hailstorm of dissonance.
      I’m still laughing today.
      just wild.

      • quebecois says:

        I’m good, social distancing like a champion, my surgeon told me to (not fuck it up) be extra careful.

        Bought a new hybrid bike, I fall too often off my road bike, going fast, with all the dangerous drivers around. I don’t want to crawl into an emergency room after a crash. Carbon frame, 105 group, this thing is wicked fast and comfortable. Equipped it with 15 l seatpacker bikepacking bag, I have an extra tire, extra tubes, all the tools to be independent if anything happens far from home. It was nice today to sit on the bike, in jeans and a jacket, no cycling accoutrement and just pedal away.

        Had to go to the hospital for some imagery, they cancelled twice. Two weeks ago I was getting ready, and was thinking about canceling the visit myself. I did. Four days ago, La Presse headline was that this hospital was the covid center for this part of the island and that it was getting bad in there. Intuitions and thoughts, listen to them.

        All in all, my life is damn good.

        Happy to have good health and a new bike!

        • bmaz says:

          Outstanding, and very good to hear. I am jonesing for some F1 this year, but not overly optimistic. People are worried about an NFL stadium….can you imagine a full on F1 weekend? Ugh.

    • Sonso says:

      Off-topic (sort of), but while in quarantine, check out the films of Denys Arcand. Great snapshots of modern life in Quebec in the 1980’s. Taught me a lot about human relations.

  31. dakine01 says:

    I had forgotten about the Tom Dowd documentary but it is excellent. IIRC, it opens with him working with Joe Bonnamasa.

    The “Muscle Shoals” documentary is excellent as is “The Wrecking Crew”

    I’ve seen bits of “Festival Express”; it looks like a fun scene with a lot of jamming on the train.

    “The Kids Are Alright” is a pretty good history of The Whoo

    And finally, Leon Russell’s “A Poem Is a Naked Person” is a good window into his world of the early ’70s

  32. Chuffy says:

    The History of The Eagles Parts 1 & 2 is excellent, and also has a portion about Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne.

  33. dimmsdale says:

    Well, I should be kicked around the block TWICE for omitting this: “The Greatest Ears In Town,” a documentary about the third Turk at Atlantic Records (besides the Ertegun brothers): Arif Mardin, who (says Wikipedia) was one of “the three legends (Dowd, Mardin, and Wexler) [who] were responsible for establishing the ‘Atlantic Sound'”. He produced, arranged, wrote for, and hand-held in the studio: The Rascals, Carly Simon, Petula Clark, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, the Bee Gees, Diana Ross, Queen, Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin, Lulu, Anita Baker, Judy Collins, Phil Collins, Scritti Politti, Culture Club, Roberta Flack, Average White Band, Hall & Oates, …you get the idea. Incredibly gifted, exceedingly modest, a guy who made all the artists he worked with, better. A great documentary!

    • dimmsdale says:

      Somewhere around this rat’s nest of an apartment I’ve got an old student-recital LP put out by Berklee School of Music–with compositions by a very young Arif Mardin (and piano played by a very young Toshiko Akyoshi). A real gem!

      • Sonso says:

        Always amazed at the knowledge of folks here. Toshiko is an amazing pianist and composer, and along with her second husband, Lew Tabackin, lead one of the greatest big bands in history. She was first married to Charlie Mariano (RIP), soon after she came to Berkeley from Japan. She was still performing at Zinc Bar in NYC up until the lockdown.

  34. Philip S. Webster says:

    Maybe a little off target but it IS Iggy Pop doing a reading of the Cooleridge:
    What fitter Mariner than the Passenger? What better beast than the world’s only sea lizard? Iggy, from the Iguanas (the name of his first band), leaving the shores of James Newell Osterberg, his other self, behind. Cold blooded and hungry, with a lust for life, driven into the sun, onto and under the waters to survive. Pop but not always popular. Decades on stage facing down indifference from the wrong crowds. ‘What evil looks had I from young and old.’ Indeed. Now he alone survives to tell the tale, and returns to remind us what he’s seen.

    Michael Holden
    https://www.ancientmarinerbigread.com/reading/9

    PS: the guardian had a blip on Pop too sharing his love and admiration for Gibbons big book for those who love history and old English prose..so beautiful to me too, so dense and convoluted I had many times to re-read a long passage to pick up again the subject I had misplace before getting to the stop, the period.

    I only discovered him when I heard Lust for Life on Trainspotting, another flick I love. Bought the album.

    • Philip S. Webster says:

      The thing that trips me out the most in Gibbon’s big book: Chapter L.
      I think Dali illustrates it and I am surprised that I have not seen any protest.

    • vvv says:

      Big fan of Iggy, (do see him live if ever you get the chance – and there are many good DVD’s) so I just wanna throw out this random thought:

      He is the next generation’s Leonard Cohen.

  35. quebecois says:

    After my surgery in very late january, I had decided that i should attend the Montréal event. Covid happened, no purchase.

    There is no way to hold a GP in Montréal, it would take two days to empty the island respecting social distancing, those subways can only hold a certain number of drunk and drooling Verstappen fans.

    I would understand events banning spectators, there are talks of multiple races for a weekend. Id like to see friday qual., normal race on saturday, and a reverse order start race on sunday, based on the results of saturdays race.

    Screw the championship, just give the titles to leclerc and McClaren and be done with that.

  36. jerryn13 says:

    Great thread, I’ve added a whole bunch to my watchlist. I’ll mention “Long Strange Trip”. Even if you hate the Dead, I think there’s enough meat to it (especially in the second half) to make it interesting.

  37. Ken Scott says:

    Such Hawks Such Hounds.

    Such Hawks Such Hounds explores the music and musicians of the American hard rock underground circa 1970-2007, focusing on the psychedelic and ’70s proto-metal-derived styles that have in recent years formed a rich body of unclassifiable sounds.

    —John Srebalus

    https://youtu.be/PkdmwKXNXAQ

  38. Sambucus says:

    Ok, I would argue that “The Last Waltz” qualifies as a documentary, even though it is a concert film. That said, I did not see Ken Burns “Country Music” mentioned. I am not really a country fan (raised as I was on Jefferson Airplane, The Stones, Grateful Dead and New Riders of the Purple Sage) but I found it to be a fascinating look at music and it’s affect on our history and culture. Burns really is an national treasure.

  39. e.a.f. says:

    watched the Lightfoot doc last evening on our doc. channel. I look at him back in the day and wonder were we ever that young. some from that time went into acting, movies, etc.and we were all that young. omg. it is interesting to see how some things are woven to make it work. Lightfoot truly is a great talent and he could actually write his music, like the notes, etc. that always did amaze me. To see him now old, as we all are, he hasn’t really changed much. wonder if he’d still give you his shirt in the back of a cab?

  40. holdingsteady says:

    What an awesome compilation, LOTS to check out!

    I haven’t watched this one yet, but it’s on my radar to see Mike Judge’s documentary tv show ‘Tales From the Tour Bus’, (two seasons) which looks entertaining – though it’s animated.

    Patti Smith: Dream of Life, was very good

    • Sambucus says:

      Animated, but with real voices. It is very good. I think the one on Bootsy Collins is very good.

  41. rosalind says:

    welp, i don’t have to worry about attending any big concerts ever again: the Saudi sovereign wealth fund just injected $500 million into Live Nation.

    the kicker: “The investment in Live Nation is the second by the Saudi government this month in an industry hit hard by the pandemic. The Saudi Public Investment Fund also took a $775 million stake in Carnival Cruises.”

    so THAT’s why Carnival Cruises got to jump to the head of the bailout line.

    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/saudi-arabia-buys-500-million-stake-live-nation-stock-surges-1291975

      • laura says:

        Man, I still miss Bill Graham. So many great shows, and when he shouts “Get your god damned feet off the back of my god damned seats” while looking right at you….. it’s like it was yesteryear.

        • bmaz says:

          Bill Graham was a huge loss. In so many ways. There are a lot of folks here that join you in missing him.

  42. person1597 says:

    Once upon a time there was an insane clown who started a posse of criminal Trumpalo posers who brought death and economic destruction to many lands.

    Prior to this calamity, normal people who got together under the watchful eye of the fbi to celebrate life and to share heartwarming experiences of human expression and comraderie, educed empyreal ecstasy as natural born Juggalos.

    Here is their story…

    https://youtu.be/vLxATMokhq4

    • Lawnboy says:

      A bit late here but, “the Genius of Lenny Breau”comes to mind. He lived near Randy Bachman in Winnipeg and story goes Randy skipped school to get lessons and hang out. Im dating myself but…I saw Lenny in Banff Fine Arts, 1974 (also Sonny Terry and Brownie Magee). True Genius.

      Also, there are YouTubes that are quite good.
      Have a look.

      Lawnboy

  43. Eureka says:

    Bad Reputation — about who else but Joan Jett.

    Also what of memoirs? That might be an interesting list/convo.

    And apropos of all the recent posts in this category, it might be timely (if a buzz kill) to mention that one apparently needs a playlist to go with the funeral (wake) services these days. Has anyone made their final arrangements? Might be good timing with everyone’s favs busted out for these posts (and may we all live long enough to lose the lists, much less actually use them …thinking face). I know I used songs by most of these artists when I had to put something together on the fly (while it was life-celebratory in its way to pick songs, it was also yet another task and some pressure to get it right, as picky as we all are about music, especially doing it for a loved one).

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