5 Top Music Documentary Movies [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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12-04-2007, 03:50 PM
One that I really love is missing, and I can't comment much on teh other since I've only seen one in full.

East The Document (Unreleased) - Bob Dylan's 1966 tour in the U.K.

Monterey Pop (1968) - Hendrix, the Who, Janis Joplin. Wow.

Gimme Shelter (1970) - The Rolling Stones' 1969 US tour. In one scene a fan gets stabbed to death in front of the stage.

The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988) - Late 1980s hair metal

The Punk Rock Movie (1992) - The emerging London scene as witnessed by D.J. Don Letts on a super-8 camera. The Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Slits.

I only saw Monterey Pop and bits and pieces of The Punk Rock Movie, so I can't say much, but I do believe The Last Waltz belongs on here. I was a fan of the Band so I may be a bit biased. And I own it on DVD.


12-04-2007, 03:55 PM
I have not seen that many but a couple standout for me,The Last Waltz(just got today on Bluray) and Standing in the Shadow of Motown.


12-04-2007, 08:48 PM
In no particular order....


12-04-2007, 10:15 PM

johnny p
12-05-2007, 05:31 AM
Last Waltz
Bittersweet Motel
Rebel Music
Jazz (the entire Ken Burns Series...... awesome)
No Direction Home

I'm sure there's more.

12-05-2007, 09:22 AM
Aren't most of these really concert films and not music docs? These are true documentaries about music:

Rock School (Highest of recs for this)
Tom Dowd and the Language of Music
Standing in the Shadow of Motown
Les Paul: Chasing Sound

See these films!

Mr MidFi
12-05-2007, 09:29 AM
If you haven't had a chance to see the Canadian film, Festival Express, you really should. It's about the attempt to put on a "Canadian Woodstock"...except all the bands traveled from town to town on a chartered party train. Loads of fun.


johnny p
12-05-2007, 10:19 AM
yeah.... I've seen that...... the Canadian Club Whiskey with a bunch of gel-tabs floating around the bottom of it....... "Loads of Fun" seemed to be had in that one!!!!!

12-05-2007, 02:26 PM
Aren't most of these really concert films and not music docs? These are true documentaries about music:

Rock School (Highest of recs for this)
Tom Dowd and the Language of Music
Standing in the Shadow of Motown
Les Paul: Chasing Sound

See these films!

Great call on THEREMIN, I wonder how many people have actually seen this???

The Tom Dowd is another great piece too.

12-05-2007, 08:33 PM
Aren't most of these really concert films and not music docs?


I think the Beatles Anthology deserves mention, even though it's too long to really qualify. Ken Burns' Jazz is of course...I don't know, 'important,' no matter how many quibbles we may have had with what we saw contrasted with what we thought we should've seen or what perhaps should've been edited out...

I can't remember if it was A&E or maybe Bravo or one of the other networks...but I've seen & occasionally recorded some great episodes over the years. Can't remember if they were part of a series, or one-offs. Louis Prima, Sam Phillips, John Coltrane, those three jump out at me. I think there was one on Miles Davis as well, but I can't recall.

The Dylan thing from a couple of years ago was amazing, I thought. For years I thought Don't Look Back was the sh*t. This was better.

I recently saw the 2nd Decline Of Western Civilization...I still prefer the 1st one by a wide margin as I actually do like most of the bands in that one, but some of what made it on the 2nd was pretty entertaining.

Most of the docus on the Beach Boys have been carefully filtered through the Mike Love treatment...but there's good stuff in them if you can get past the editorializing. Endless Harmony is good, but An American Band has a ton of great & rare footage (even if it's presented to try to demean some of Brian Wilson's best work, as much as possible). But I Just Wasn't Made For These Times has no such agenda.

There are some good ones from time to time on Ovation. I didn't see the whole thing, but there was one from a few years ago about the old bluesmen down in Mississippi, You See Me Laughin'. They also broadcast stuff about Elvis from time to time, and a great Johnny Cash docu from the late 1960s, as well. That one includes some footage of the Nashville Skyline sessions.

Kurt & Courtney is, ahem, pretty one-sided, but it's a good watch. I think the same guy made one about Biggie & Tupac.

Gimme Shelter is something I'd put near the top even if I weren't a Rolling Stones fan. Unbelievable stuff. 25 x 5 is a good watch as well & covers most of the major bases...but it's also a testament to how their career spanned about 15 great years, followed by 25+ years of mostly...boring filler that wouldn't be irksome if they just admitted that they remain appealing due to nostalgia. It's not a crime.

I was glad that End Of The Century was as well-done as it was. It would've been a shame if it had been a hack job. I think it works better than, for instance, Westway To The World.

There was a BBC docu on Captain Beefheart a couple of years ago that I think deserves mention. That's a pretty interesting subject, there.

There was supposed to be a reportedly excellent docu on the MC5 called A True Testimonial, which I think was blanked due to lawsuits. A shame.

24 Hour Party People was no documentary, but it worked pretty well to get across a couple of decades' worth of what Manchester turned out in the wake of punk rock.

I'd be interested in seeing something on the Flamin' Groovies...and Can...and Hawkwind...and Badfinger...Grand Funk Railroad...Creedence & John Fogerty...Public Image, Ltd...and Big Star. Maybe Kraftwerk. Some of these acts may already be covered in this regard & I don't know about it, but...I think they might make for some very interesting pieces of work.

I wanted to rent the new Who DVD, but it was out...maybe next week.