“Anvil! The Story of Anvil” Listed as One of Top 10 Best Band/Music Documentaries

I came across an article today from WeAreMovieGeeks.com with a list of  their top ten best band/music documentaries.  I was thinking “Wow, this should be interesting” so I checked it out and the first thing I see is Justin-Fucking-Bieber with that prissy looking hair cut that ALL the boy bands are wanting now.   I continued on and found some that I thought you Gellheads might be interested in so I’m posting those here. For those of you who are diggin on Mr. Prissy Boy Bieber then head over to the site and check out the rest of the list.


The popularity of big hair rock music was at its absolute peak in 1988. Following the success of her punk rock documentary The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), director Penelope Spheeris turned her lens on the infamous Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Having been the launching ground of hugely successful bands such as Van Halen, Motley Crue and RATT, struggling musicians from all over the world flocked to the Strip seeking fame, fortune and that elusive title of Rock Star.

The film takes a very candid look at just how much hustle it took to stand out amongst a sea of wanna-bes and posers. Spheeris interviews mega-successful musicians such as Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Stanley (KISS), Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (Aerosmith), and Alice Cooper all offering advice to the up-and-comers. Newly signed acts such as Poison, Vixen and Faster Pussycat convey just how precarious their position is, demonstarted by the fact that the latter two only enjoyed a brief success from their mostly local following and never truly made it big.

But the most poignant and funny interviews come from all the local bands and groupies who are so sure they are going to make it and get signed. They have endless confidence and belief in themselves, and sadly you know they will never make it. But that doesn’t stop them from going out night after night to promote themselves, believing they have just as good a shot as anybody else. If you lived in Los Angeles during this time and were into this “scene,” this is a great stroll down memory lane and you might just see yourself or people you know.


In D TOUR: A TENACIOUS DOCUMENTARY we get a glimpse into the lives of Jack Black and Kyle Gass as they take on a world tour in support of their newest album and film. Are there typical funny moments between the two? Sure, but there are also some rare moments captured between family and friends. This documentary focuses on Kyle and Jack as normal, everyday people, which is something the world needs to be reminded of. Oh, and Tenacious D rocks!


Remembering John Lennon, you’re astounded at how much he accomplished during his brief forty years on this planet. In 1988 filmmaker Andrew Solt had the daunting task of going through 240 hours of home movie and video footage to assemble a feature length documentary. The result is IMAGINE: JOHN LENNON. Like many other portraits of Lennon, we see the photos of him as a young working class musical hero growing up in Liverpool. Soon he meets his rock and roll partner Paul McCartney and begins his journey to superstardom. During those years of the Fab Four, John seemed to stand out with his off-kilter charm and razor-sharp wit. He seemed to delight in pushing buttons even back then, but soon experienced a powerful backlash with his ‘We’re more popular than Jesus” remark. The group changed with the times from the wacky mop-tops to counter culture icons. This change might have been accelerated by John’s new relationship with Yoko Ono. After the Beatles split-some fans still insist that Yoko was the instigator-John and Yoko became artistic and domestic partners. They decided to stage many events to call attention to world problems. In one memorable sequence their “bed-in” attracted the attention of cartoonist Al Capp (of Li’l Abner fame). Capp spews insults at the couple during his time in their bedroom. Along with footage of the couple on the Dick Cavett and Mike Douglas TV shows, John talks of his love for America. After battling with government forces for several years, John and Yoko are finally allowed to settled into an idyllic existence in NYC. Of course we’re also treated to countless of examples of his musical genius in this portrait of a remarkably gifted artist who was taken from us far too soon.


After 16 years on the road THE BAND decided to have one heck of a farewell show. On Thanksgiving of 1976 a little director that I like to call Martin Scorsese documented the last show by The Band, one of the most influential bands in music, even if you have not heard of them. Chances are if you are musician from the 60′s or 70′s, and maybe even after, you were influenced in some way by The Band. Before their show on that noteworthy Thanksgiving, the audience (around 5,000 people) was served turkey dinners, and the evening was kicked off by poets and an orchestra. The Band performed on their own, but also brought out a plethora of some of the most popular and influential musicians from that time to join them on stage. Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris, Neil Diamond, Muddy Waters and many more joined in on the festivities. The Band did not leave the audience wanting much though, starting at 9pm and playing their encore at around 2:15am. This was a jam session that will now live on forever thanks to Martic Scorsese.


ANVIL!: THE STORY OF ANVIL was an unexpected and surprisingly enthralling documentary film; a portrait of a band’s passion and undying devotion to their art. This film from Sacha Gervasi also suggests a common human philosophy; that you’re never too old and it’s never too late to follow your dreams. Gervasi follows the two front-men of the band as they venture out to rekindle the fame they once had. It’s as much a road movie as it is a portrait of the artists, but the film also conveys the underlying influence the band had in their initial run, featuring interviews with well-known heavy metal stars such as Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Lemmy of Motorhead, and Slash of Guns & Roses. For a band that many people had never heard of and others had long forgotten, Anvil had an immense amount of impact of the heavy metal music scene, making this a sort of living testament to the artists. Because of this dynamic, the film is often as difficult to watch as it is enjoyable, as we experience much of the pain and disappointment, much of the artistic torment that the band endures, but the overwhelming result is compassion for the artists.

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