Ever since the inception of VHS tapes, bands and artists have been trying to document not only their performances but also their history. And the latter actually split their fan base in a sense. There are a lot of people who don’t care about what happened or who did what they just care about listening to the music.
However, thankfully, a lot of people (especially myself) do wanna know the history of their favorite bands in detail, preferably told by the band members and close acquaintances.
From the mid- eighties to the mid- nineties a lot of documentaries were released: Depp Purple – Heavy Metal Pioneers, Iron Maiden – 12 Wasted Years, Queen – Champions of the World and The Magic Years, Kiss – Xtreme Close Up, Ozzy Osbourne – Don’t’Blame Me, Judas Priest – Metal Works ’73-93, etc.
Of course, in 95 we had the epic Anthology series from The Beatles, but I know for a fact that the juiciest details were kept out of the final product. Actually, you can obtain the uncut version from fan clubs and stuff, but it will cost you a good amount of money.
Anyway, while I eagerly wait for the upcoming tell-all Kiss documentary, here are my choices so far.
#5: Anvil – The Story of Anvil
Although I deemed extremely overrated by the press, this documentary is rather interesting. I say overrated because most of the opinions that praised the documentary so much, came from people that don’t have a clue about how is life on the Metal underground. Michael Moore is a brilliant documentarist but hardly a Metal guy. Dustin Hoffman is one of the greatest actors ever, but also not Metal. Of course the all-access nature of the video is wonderful as it is the direction, but that’s what makes it special. It’s not the fact that the band is deceived in Czech Republic and Hungary and struggle just to get by. I can assure you that’s life in a lot of bands.
#4: Queen – These are the Days of Our Lives
This is almost like an upgrade from the excellent Campions of the World and Magic Years. There are more stories, more statements and even more landmark places are shown. And it is clear that Brian May and Roger Taylor are dealing better with the passing of Freddie. The fact that they make a point of lambasting the British press for the style of coverage of his death is telling. Another thing is how they make it clear the bad influence Munich night life had on Freddie and on the making of the ill-fated Hot Space. But it’s not all doom and gloom and there is also the hilarious story about Freddie confronting Sid Vicious in the hallway of a studio and calling him “Simon Ferocious”.
#3: Lemmy – 49% Motherf**ker, 51% Son of a Bitch
Well, let’s face it: there are very few characters that deserve a documentary more than Lemmy Kilmister. He’s the embodiment of all things Rock and Roll and can be deemed a real survivor, given everything he drank, snorted and fucked. However, one of the main characters in this documentary is not even him is his apartment in LA. It is so messy and cluttered that you can’t differentiate what is garbage and what is not. One of the greatest parts is already in the beginning when Lemmy goes to Amoeba Records in LA and asks for The Beatles box-set… in MONO. The store clerk doesn’t have it, but she gives him her won. According to Lemmy, MONO is the right way to listen to The Beatles and there was never anybody like them. But there’s also a touching scene when he says his greatest possession is his son, surprising even the latter.
#2: Ozzy Osbourne – God Bless Ozzy
If very few characters are more worthy a documentary than Lemmy, Ozzy Osbourbne is certainly one of them. In the same manner as These are the Days of Our Lives and Champions of the World, this is a rather upgraded version of Don’t Blame Me. Actually is a 10000000000000% times improved version; probably because it is directed by Jack Osbourne, the son of the man himself. Statements from his Sabbath bandmates, his children from his first marriage and Jack himself are very revealing of how insane Ozzy’s life was. Two priceless moments: Ozzy watching his “Ultimate Sin” video and saying again and again that that didn’t happen because he couldn’t remember any of that and Tommy Lee telling stories about Mötley Crüe tour with Ozzy, probably the most debauched tour ever.
#1: Rush – Beyond the Lighted Stage
Talk about irony. I read a Rush biography once and although it was cool, it didn’t’ entertained me like those from Ozzy, Lemmy or Mötley Crüe. Yet, when it comes to documentaries, I don’t think there will ever be one better than this one. Kudos to Canadian directors Scot McFayden and Sam Dunn for doing such a great work. First of all, it’s amazing to watch Neil Peart talking. I mean he’s known for being the shiest person ever, so that in itself is worth watching. Second, that home footage in the late-sixties of Alex Lifeson fighting with his family about wanting to pursue a career in music is almost surreal. It looks like it was filmed especially for the video. And third the statements from insane people like Jack Black and Billy Corgan. Especially the latter, when he tells the story of showing the lyrics from “Entre Nous” to his mother saying that it was about their relationship. All in all, there are a lot of interesting things here but I won’t bother you talking about all of them, you should watch it yourself!
The Trews – s/t
Nader Sadek – The Malefic: Chapter III (EP)
Mott The Hoople – Mott
The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI – Betty Medsger