I’ve been hunting through Netflix for some of the best rock docs available now for your eyes and ears. I sifted through some docs that SOUNDED like they would be good, but didn’t have that FLAIR. A rock doc should represent the intensity and madness that goes behind the music. Basically each rocker has experienced the same struggles… “Oh no, I’m addicted to drugs,” …“Oh no, I can’t have a family because I’m always touring,” …“Oh no, I’m too sexy for my body.” Not telling a story we’ve heard a million times before, is where the art of making a rock doc comes into play, and this list does rock docs justice! Here’s a list of rock docs that will blow your socks off:
BEWARE OF MR. BAKER
The story behind Ginger Baker, the man who inspired most modern metal music by his unbelievable talent as a drummer, is the reason I wanted to put this list together. As one of the founding members of the band Cream, Baker toured the world, discovered where he wanted to settle after, moved there, and then almost (like clockwork) was forced to leave because the town couldn’t handle him. Baker goes down in rock history as possibly the most self-destructive musician ever. Beware of Mr. Baker does a great job of capturing the awesomeness that is Ginger Bakers playing as well as the wretchedness that is his life. I was turned onto this movie by Mick Garris, the way he pitched it was, “The Who was known for being crazy on stage… Ginger Baker was known for being the biggest piece of shit off stage.” The films starts with Baker breaking the director’s nose with his cane… if that’s any indication to how he is with his children and close friends… that’s up for you to decide. Overall, great film to watch and remember you’re not alone… because you too have broken a filmmakers nose.
LAST DAYS HERE
On a lighter note, here’s a documentary about a crack addict! Last Days Here is about the biggest metal band that never was, Pentagram. For one reason or another, this band missed every major shot that was ever thrown at them. Actually, don’t know why I wrote that, cause there’s only onereason why the band never made it, and that’s the lead singer Bobby Liebling. Last Days Here is almost completely scored by the dozens of Pentagram songs that had every making of a major hit, but unfortunately never were. Directors Don Argott and Demian Fenton grew up listening to Pentagram and began filming the doc years after Pentagram’s breakup. By this time, Bobby was living with his parents, looked about 80 years old and had a massive crack addiction. But the filmmaker’s determination to get this band back together and give them the love and praise they so deserved was all around inspirational and an incredible watch.
HIT SO HARD
Patty Schemel, the drummer of Hole made a movie about Patty Schemel…the drummer of Hole! Schemel started recording footage back in the early 90s when Hole was on the top of the world. If you’re a fan of Hole, first off- didn’t know you watched documentaries! Neat! The entire film seems like it really didn’t know what kind of film it wanted to be. Did it want to be a story about the struggles of being a drummer? Being a female musician? Being a drug addict? Being gay? It just seems like Schemel took a bunch of iMovie filters, and tried to connect a story, and voila- she had Hit So Hard. No one in the film seemed very interested in talking, unless it was Courtney Love nostalgically remembering how funny it was when her friends were homeless crack addicts! Also, her thoughts about Patty flopped harder than their comeback album. If you’re a fan of Hole’s history, than this might be the doc for you. Not a fan of this one, but I can’t tell if it’s because I’m not a fan of the band or the film. Perhaps you might enjoy it for the both of us.
Upside Down is a chronicle of the rise of Creation, the biggest Brit-pop label that housed Oasis and Ride, two of the most successful UK bands of the 90s. It starts with a documentation of the company’s roots; lan Mcgee (the Steve Jobs of Creation) and his fearless approach to undercutting other companies to get the bands that he thought were great. His indie not-giving-a-fuck style comes off well in this doc, which can seem chaotic and all over the place visually. All the interviews were in black and white, a contrast to the hundreds of live footage, old TV spots, home tapes and photos, which were shown in a variety of visually appealing ways. Visually, this film isn’t’ boring, but the film seemed to be a large ego stroke to the label. I was hearing about all the things the label did right, and was hoping to watch some hard times to kick in, but it never happened. Either way it’s a fun story with some kick-ass tunes from bands that you know and love, as well as ones you might not have heard of. Just know you’ll hear the phrase “I just had no clue what I was doin’” a lot.
THE PUNK SINGER
This was a great doc! It tells the story of the feminist icon Kathleen Hanna who fronted bands like Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, and how she stopped at nothing to deliver her message of equality to anyone who wouldn’t listen. The film covers her life from her early days of spoken word until now, and LIKE A GOOD DOC (sorry Drum So Hard) we’re given a question that we, the viewer now NEED answered. They do a great job of setting up the legend that is Kathleen Hanna so that any dum dum could turn this on and understand whom she was and what she did. Early into the Punk Singer, you begin to then to ask yourself- where has she been for the last 5 years? No one’s heard from her for a while, so what happened?! Hmm! Now I’m interested! A magnetic documentary in all senses of the word (don’t put a magnet to your computer), this is a must-watch!
SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS
I was under the impression that Shut Up and Play The Hits was a documentary about LCD Soundsystem and their journey as a band, from their first gig to their final show. But when I started watching Shut Up and Play the Hits and I saw how produced it was to make it look real, I realized this wasn’t going to go into any real story. It’s really just the footage of their final show with little bits of “why are you doing this” in between songs. I really like the band and never had a chance to see them when they were still touring, so it was nice to see their kick-ass final performance at Madison Square Garden. The question that I was hoping to be answered was actually answered later in the film, so I didn’t feel as disappointed when it wasn’t really about LCD’s story as much as the event.