22 April 2015

Music Documentaries Worth Watching

I'm back! Well, sort of. Some of you may know I've been kept rather occupied by my PhD-nightmare, which is now finally submitted. I'm now waiting to hear about my defense date (i.e. the dreadful day I will be attempting to justify to two experts that what I did is the next big thing in science!). Wish me luck, I will need it!

Anyways, back to the point! Recently I had some time to catch up with Netflix etc (a lot) and watched a few music documentaries. I thought a post about some of my recent favourite/recommended watches would be helpful for those of you not familiar with them already. No intros needed but just a note that I'm not only looking at heavy metal documentaries.

Artifact (Dir. Jared Leto, 2012)
This documentary follows the American rock band of genius, in my opinion, Jared Leto Thirty Seconds to Mars as they fight the dark force (i.e. their music production company) that sued the band for $30 million. Yes, that happens apparently. It also offers a glimpse on how the band came to produce their album, aptly titled, This is War. Featuring appearances from Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), and Brandon Boyd (Incubus) among others the film is eye opening to music fans some of whom may think that their valued money go to the band instead of big multi-billion companies.
Takeaway: Save your money, spend it on gigs instead.

20 Feet from Stardom (Dir. Morgan Neville, 2013)
An American documentary that gives voice to back-up singers who are left in the shadows and beyond the spotlight. It highlights how our favourite tracks are "pimped up" by the harmonies of talented women and men. Notable appearances include Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones), Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Stevie Wonder, and some of the most amazing back-up singers including Darlene Love (The Blossoms) and Merry Clayton (The Rolling Stones, the chilling voice behind gimme shelter).
Takeaway: Once again we are being reminded that sadly a perfect voice isn't the key to fame nor "success". 

Beware of Mr. Baker (Dir. Jay Bulger, 2012)
This is a documentary about legendary drummer Ginger Baker (Cream). It looks back on the career of one of the most important drummers of all time but also his many quirks and loss of fortune and his current reclusive life in South Africa. Featuring interviews from Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lars Ulrich (Metallica), and many more, this documentary is an ode to the trivial, enigmatic Mr. Baker. Must-see not only for keen drummers but every single musicphile out there.
Takeaway: Beware Mr. Baker's punch!

Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey (Dir. Ramona S. Diaz, 2012)
After searching all over for a new lead singer, Journey members take to YouTube to find their next front man. Their prayers were answered with Arnel Pineda, a Filipino singing in cover bands; the band felt that he could fill Steve Perry's shoes. The documentary is a very brief introduction to the new Journey lead singer and his background. A little bit boring at times but you will be captivated by Arnel's personality.
Takeway: Remember the film Rock Star?

Sound City (Dir. Dave Grohl, 2013)
A documentary about the history of recording studio Sound City Studios in Los Angeles. Dave bought several items from the studio when it closed in 2011 and was inspired to make a movie about it. Some very famous albums were recorded at Sound City Studios by Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Neil Young, Slipknot etc. Some notable appearances include Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath), Paul McCartney (The Beatles), Neil Young, and Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) but many more share their experiences.
Take-away: There will always be eras greater than the present.

Roswell Films
Mission to Lars (Dir. James Moore & William Spicer, 2013)
This is a chronicle of William and Kate Spicer's mission to make their brother's dream of meeting Lars Ulrich (Metallica) come true. Tom is suffering from Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that causes developmental issues. Although I was a bit skeptical about William and Kate's intentions (you can feel they are also doing it for the spotlight), this documentary is informative and heart-warming as the siblings try to reconnect through the mission. Featuring Metallica but most importantly Lars himself, who appears to be more of a nice guy that many of us give him credit for.
Takeaway: Music does bring people together.

These documentaries are some of the most recent ones I watched and enjoyed. You can watch most of these on Netflix (it's worth the small subscription fee trust me), YouTube etc. I will be updating the list in the future with new releases and old favourites. But if you have any recommendations for me, I'd love to hear them.

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