Posts Tagged ‘Documentary’

50 years ago, deep in the Welsh countryside, two brothers were milking cows on their family farm – but dreamed of making music. They had the audacious idea to build a studio right there – animals were kicked out of barns and musicians were moved into Nan’s spare bedroom. Inadvertently, they’d launched the world’s first independent residential recording studio. Black Sabbath, Queen, Robert Plant, Iggy Pop, Simple Minds, Oasis, The Stone Roses, and Coldplay have all recorded at Rockfield. This is a story of rock and roll dreams intertwined with a family business’s fight for survival in the face of an ever-changing music landscape.

Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm (2021) Trailer

The Sparks Brothers Poster

Edgar Wright turns documentarian with The Sparks Brothers, a documentary about the rock band Sparks which just unveiled an official trailer. The film premiered at Sundance, was picked up by Focus Features, and then screened at SXSW. Those who didn’t catch it during its festival run can watch it in Cinema theatres from June 18th, 2021.

The just-released trailer features Beck, Jason Schwartzmann, Jack Antonoff, Todd Rundgren, Giorgio Moroder, Flea, and the Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin talking about Sparks – a band that’s described as “your favorite band’s favorite band.”

Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Baby Driver) directed and produced, with Nira Park, George Hencken, and Laura Richardson also producing. How can one rock band be successful, underrated, hugely influential, and criminally overlooked all at the same time? Edgar Wright’s debut documentary takes audiences on a musical odyssey through five weird and wonderful decades with brothers/bandmates Ron and Russell Mael celebrating the inspiring legacy of Sparks.

The brothers have been making music for 50 years and have released 24 albums, with their 25th in the works.

THE SPARKS BROTHERS ★ Directed by Edgar Wright. In theaters 2021: US & Canada – June 18 Australia – June 24 UK & Ireland – July 30th

Sparks are rock’s perennial outsiders, coming of age as ardent Anglophiles in hippy-dippy late-‘60s L.A. before finding an audience for their erudite art-pop overseas. Of all the preening glam rockers beamed into British living rooms during the early ‘70s, Sparks undoubtedly cast the strangest figures, even if they shirked the gender-bending costumery flaunted by peers like Bowie and Roxy Music. Though Russell boasted de rigueur Bolan curls and a glass-shattering voice that made Freddie Mercury sound timid, his pop-idol visage was undercut by a disarming bug-eyed intensity. The buttoned-up Ron, meanwhile, was the ultimate anti-rock-star, perched behind his keyboard like a schoolmaster at his desk, his creepy toothbrush moustache and disinterested scowls oozing an authoritarian disdain for the kids in the crowd. Exhibiting a performance style more in tune with vaudeville tradition than pop-star posturing, the Maels seemed less like leaders of a rock band than a 1940s comedy double act who were teleported three decades into the future, thrust onto a soundstage and forced to perform their idea of rock‘n’roll on the spot.

But for all their raging irreverence, Sparks have managed to remain novel without lapsing into novelty. They’re not so much trendsetters as trend upsetters.

“This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” (1974)

To capitalize on overseas interest, the Maels moved to England in 1973 and rebuilt Sparks with British players for their breakthrough album, Kimono My House. For a certain generation of Brits, Sparks’ performance of the album’s lead single—a #2 hit in the UK—on “The Top of the Pops” was as transformative as the Beatles’ 1964 appearance on “Ed Sullivan” was for a previous generation of Americans. But even if it’s been bouncing around your brain for 40 years, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” remains resolutely unkaraokeable—its zig-zagging melody, rollercoaster pitch shifts, and overstuffed stanzas still feel as difficult to grasp as flapping fish.

“Girl From Germany” (1973)

After their Todd Rundgren-produced debut album as Halfnelson flopped in America, the newly rebranded five-piece found more sympathetic audiences overseas while touring their second album, A Woofer in Tweeter’s Clothing. Following their British television debut in November 1972 on “The Old Grey Whistle Test”, word began to spread on the Isles of this weird band from Los Angeles with a keyboardist that looked like Hitler. Ron Mael claims he grew his infamous mini-moustache in tribute to silent-film stars like Charlie Chaplin and Oliver Hardy, however, the waters were muddied by Woofer’s opening track. An outrageous but incisive satire of the post-war prejudices that still lingered in America three decades after WWII, “Girl From Germany” depicts the awkwardness of bringing a German girlfriend home to meet your Jewish parents, whose disapproval is matched only by the hypocrisy of having a Benz in the driveway. (“Well, the car I drive is parked outside/ It’s German-made/ They resent that less than the people/ Who are German-made.”) It’s a prime early example of Sparks’ eagerness to toy with taboos rarely addressed in pop songs, let alone exceedingly cheery ones.

“Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth” (1974)

Sparks’ urbane sarcasm is the aesthetic opposite of tree-hugging hippie earnestness. However, this resplendent piano ballad from 1974’s Propaganda adroitly addressed our planet’s fragile nature—and our collective duty to protect it—long before “global warming” became a catchphrase. Its undiminished topical currency has made it a popular cover choice over the years for everyone from Martin Gore (who recorded separate versions within and without his Depeche Mode bandmates) to Neko Case (whose reading forms the thematic centerpiece of her eco-conscious 2009 album, Middle Cyclone).

“Get in the Swing” (1975)

Sparks’ transgressive presence and provocative lyricism made them heroes to first-wave punks like the Ramones and Siouxsie Sioux. However, just as their influence was taking root underground in mid-‘70s London and New York, Sparks’ music was turning ever more fanciful, flitting from their ragtime romps, to arena rock, to Beach Boys homages. The circus-like “Get in the Swing”, from 1975’s appropriately titled Indiscreet, typifies the excess of this period, though its pomped-up parade proved to be more a funeral march for the band’s commercial prospects, precipitating a late-‘70s slide down the UK charts that would necessitate a dramatic shift in course.

“Angst in My Pants” (1982)

After their dalliances with disco, Sparks reverted back to standard rock-band formation, reportedly because touring with (then extremely cumbersome) beat-making equipment proved to be a logistical nightmare. Ironically, with a flesh-and-blood group behind them once again, the Maels’ music turned even more mechanistic. Their new wave singles pretty much all locked into the same zippy 4/4 snare beat, but the formula worked, resulting in respectable showings on the stateside charts for the first time in their career. The best of the bunch is the title track of 1982’s Angst in My Pants, where that omnipresent rhythm forms the ticking-time-bomb soundtrack to some yacht-riding yuppie bastard’s impotence-induced midlife crisis.

“Police Encounters” (2015)

In self-referential Sparks fashion, the band’s foray with Franz Ferdinand climaxes with a multi-sectional suite called “Collaborations Don’t Work”. But the best tracks on FFS feel less like collaborations than full-on genetic fusions. On jaunty highlight “Police Encounters”, Russell and Alex Kapranos bound through the song’s brisk verses and call-back choruses with a finish-each-others-sentences sense of intuition, while Ron’s electric-piano taps and synth textures get hardwired into Franz’s vacuum-sealed rhythm section. Despite the seemingly topical title, don’t expect any political analysis here—the song is a cheeky romp about catching a soft-focus glimpse of a lawman’s fetching wife while getting thrown in the drunk tank. But, coming on the heels of the Maels’ stripped-down Two Hands One Mouth duo tours, FFS heralds Sparks’ resounding return to frantic, futurist rock‘n’roll.

For nearly 50 years, brothers Russell and Ron Mael have made a sport of crashing the zeitgeist, producing brilliantly skewed songs that both revel in and poke fun at pop convention. 

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Poly Styrene was the first woman of colour in the UK to front a successful rock band. She introduced the world to a new sound of rebellion, using her unconventional voice to sing about identity, consumerism, postmodernism, and everything she saw unfolding in late 1970s Britain, with a rare prescience. As the frontwoman of X-Ray Spex, the Anglo-Somali punk musician was also a key inspiration for the riot grrrl and Afropunk movements. Featuring unseen archive material and rare diary entries narrated by Oscar-nominee Ruth Negga, this documentary follows Celeste as she examines her mother’s unopened artistic archive and traverses three continents to better understand Poly the icon and Poly the mother.

Directed by Paul Sng and Celeste Bell Documentary | English | 89 min



Posted: May 11, 2021 in MUSIC
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The landscape of the Brooklyn music scene is ever changing, but not always for the best. While we’ve seen an uprising in incredible talent, all-out-shake-you-to-your-core performances, and select venues that foster and support the kind of art we want to see in our community, those same venues and artists are struggling to maintain their livelihoods during the current pandemic.

Brooklyn is Burning is a documentary started by filmmaker and photographer A.F. Cortes pre-COVID that has adapted and evolved due to the new challenges the scene is facing. What started as a celebration of the variety and vibrance of the scene, the film will now also focus on the current limbo it is in and strive to support and uplift the artists that it features with fundraising efforts on Kickstarter.

Watching the preview for this made me simultaneously so happy and so heartbroken. What the team behind this has put together thus far is a beautiful snapshot of the colourful world we were so happy (maybe even unappreciative of) living in. It’s a film I’m sure all of us who were in Brooklyn during that time can see ourselves in. We can recognized the shows we were at, the ones we worked, the crowded bar we went to for the after party. While it’s an under five minute preview, the storytelling and cinematography behind it is so powerful it takes you there — a place that you’ve been longing for and missing for so long that to see it in all its glory feels like going home if just for a second.

The film strives to celebrate the diversity of the scene as well and how it has been collectively united during a time of incredible divide in our country. While there is still work to be done in showcasing and supporting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists, we’re fortunate to have a scene that is moving in the right direction — something that can be seen in the variety of artists showcased as part of the film.

If you’ve ever had 2 A.M. tacos at The Broadway or stood on a bench at Market Hotel or had one too many extra strong tequila sodas at Alphaville on a Tuesday, do yourself a favor and check out this project and please support it if you can. The scene is the artists, but also the people behind the scenes and the audience at the show. We are all the scene and we should do what we can to support it.

FEATURING: Bambara, Blu Anxxiety, Bodega, CRICKETS, Deli Girls, Dreamcrusher, Jehovah’s Princess, Kill Alters, Lust$ickPuppy, Native Sun, Murder Pact, Sloppy Jane, Stuyedeyed, Surfbort, A Place to Bury Strangers, Public Practice, Uniform and MANY more. —

The Jangling Man is the story of UK-based artist Martin Newell. The film is being shot, directed and produced by James Sharp and is being co-produced and edited by Jim Larson, in partnership with Captured Tracks. He’s known by many names – the greatest living Englishman, the wild man of Wivenhoe, the Midnite Cleaner, the Psychedelic Gardener, the godfather of home recording – and he has lived many lives. Regarded by many as an influential figure in the history of cassette culture and DiY recording, Newell’s music career spans over six decades and he has quite literally released hundreds of albums, 7″ singles, cassettes and CDs. Presently, he is still recording and releasing. And let’s not forget, on top of being the most published contemporary British poet who continues to release collections of literature as well as recite his work on the BBC to this day.

Martin Newell has been an integral part of the British music scene since the 1970s, from glam rock and pop, to jazz, all the while keeping his glittery shimmer. He’s been produced by XTC’s Andy Partridge, and written for the likes of Captain Sensible of The Damned. Newell has also toured extensively with members of the Damned as his own backing band. It’s no wonder he has influenced the likes of Alphaville, MGMT, Ariel Pink and Mac Demarco, to name a few.

As always, thank you for your support and for spreading the word about this project! Today, we wanted to share a few bits of ephemera we’ve collected while working on The Jangling Man, chiefly the story of Martin Newell’s first solo single, “Young Jobless”, which was surprisingly the subject of some controversy when it was first released.

In 1980, Martin Newell began recording in earnest with Lol Elliott under the Cleaners from Venus moniker. Around the same time, Newell was enlisted by the Manpower Services Commission, an employment and training services organization in the UK, to write a single about issues faced by unemployed young people. Thus, Newell wrote “Young Jobless” and “Sylvie in Town”, his first single to be released by Liberty PR, a subsidiary of EMI. No one could have predicted the media frenzy that followed:

The documentary will feature unseen performances and footage never released from the extent of his career along with interviews from the likes of: punk poet John Cooper Clarke, Tony Phillips, R. Stevie Moore, Nelson a/k/a Peter Nice [Brotherhood of Lizards / New Model Army], Dave Gregory [XTC], Steve Lamacq [BBC Radio 6 Music], Iain McNay [Cherry Red Records], Ichiro Tatsuhara, Luke Wright, Kimberley Rew [Katrina and the Waves, The Soft Boys], Lorraine Bowen, Paul Tivy, Ian Peppercorn, James Dodds, James Hunter, Lee Cave-Berry, Mike Sniper [Captured Tracks], Jack Tatum [Wild Nothing], Zachary Cole Smith [DIIV], Mac DeMarco, Jackson MacIntosh and Jessica Pratt.

The life of Martin Newell may be one of the greatest untold stories of the music world…

Earlier this year, a new documentary chronicling David Crosby‘s life and work premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT. David Crosby: Remember My Name reflects on a variety of topics including Crosby’s struggles with addiction, personal tragedies, conflicts with longtime band-mates, and much more.

David Crosby: Remember My Name also references its subject’s own work, borrowing its title from Crosby’s 1971 debut solo album. The film was directed by A.J. Eaton and produced by Cameron Crowe, who reportedly conducted numerous interviews with Crosby for his part in the project. It’s important to note that Crowe covered Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young back in 1976 when he was still just a writer for Rolling Stone.

The documentary will open in New York and Los Angeles on July 19th. A nationwide release date is still yet to be announced. From producer Cameron Crowe, “DAVID CROSBY: REMEMBER MY NAME” reflects on David Crosby’s life of music stardom, while forging new paths to relevancy at his age of 77 in this deeply personal documentary.

The official trailer for David Crosby: Remember My Name

Image result for JETHRO TULL - " Swing In " Documentary 1969

Weird and wonderful!  Ian’s flute improvisation shows that he must have spent a high percentage of his life practicing the flute … it is amazing how he just breathes music.  So much energy and sensitivity at the same time … a really great band … and a really great time.  The application of some jazz to folk, classical and popular music

From The Rockpalast Archives JETHRO TULL “Swing In” Full Documentary 27.11.1969)

Songs : 01.Nothing Is Easy 02:18 02.Bourée 08:03 03.Sweet Dream / .For a Thousand Mother 20:42

Talking Heads vs. Television :: A BBC Channel 4 Production, 1984

In 1984, Talking Heads performed live at London’s Wembley Arena for a BBC Channel 4 special officially titled “Once In A Lifetime” but more familiarly known as Talking Heads vs Television . The band’s frontman David Byrne is credited as the creative consultant in this 68-minute long production that includes bizarre clips, live concert footage, and interviews

A BBC Channel 4 production from 1984.

Songs performed include:
“Life During Wartime”
“Big Blue Plymouth (Eyes Wide Open)”
“Once in A Lifetime”
“Big Business”
“I Zimbra”
“Slippery People”
“Psycho Killer”
“My Big Hands (Fall Though the Cracks)”
“What A Day That Was”
“Crosseyed And Painless”

Neil Young - Like A Rolling Stone [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]

With over forty five years spent working in an industry that has come close to driving him nuts on many an occasion, Neil Young remains the only musical troubadour to have emerged from the post-Dylan pre-Woodstock era to remain a wholly relevant composer and performer this far into the third millennium. But as with most of his contemporaries, the man s finest and most cherished music was recorded and released during the first decade of his career the period covered in this film. From his glorious work with the ever joyous Buffalo Springfield and the majestic material he recorded with CSN&Y, through classic solo album after classic solo album, this programme looks at the life and music of Neil Young during a period of incredible creativity. Using rare and classic performance footage, archive interviews and contributions from those who have worked closely with Neil, the finest critics and other key personnel, among a host of other features, this programme reveals itself to be the finest document on this extraordinary musician s life yet to emerge. With extra features, extended interviews and full biographies as well, the complete package will prove a delight for the man s millions of fans across the world.

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Neil Young: “Don’t Be Denied”.…BBC documentary charting Neil’s career from his first experiences in Canada through his trip south and his time with Buffalo Springfield, CSNY and Crazy Horse. Whilst he is claiming it is just about the music, the film shows Neil as a man of great integrity both musically and politically. Fascinating stuff.

Neil Young grants rare and unprecedented access to the BBC for a documentary in which he traces his musical journey in his own words.

The film was made from three hours of interview shot in New York and California, and uses previously unseen performance footage from the star’s own extensive archives. It also features cohorts Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Nils Lofgren and James Taylor.

From his early transcontinental American quest for recognition, through the first flush of success with Buffalo Springfield, to the bi-polar opposites of mega-stardom with Crosby, Stills and Nash and the soulful rock of Crazy Horse, Young’s career has enjoyed many guises.

Perhaps his most famous period was as a 1970s solo artist making albums that became benchmarks. “After The Goldrush”, recorded in his Topanga Canyon home, and “Harvest”, part-recorded on his northern Californian ranch, saw Young explore the confessional side of song-writing. But never one to rest on his laurels, he would continually change direction.

In the mid-seventies, two of Young’s closest friends died as a result of heroin abuse. What followed was music’s answer to cinema verite, with Tonight’s The Night a spine-chilling wake for his dead friends.

As New Wave arrived, Young was keen to explore new ideas. A collaboration with Devo on what became his art-house epic, Human Highway, saw the genesis of Rust Never Sleeps, a requiem for the seventies. In the eighties, Young explored different genres, from electronica to country, and in recent times he has returned to Crazy Horse and Crosby, Stills and Nash, but only when it has suited him. The film ends with Young still refusing to be denied, on tour in the USA with CSNY, playing anti-Bush songs to a Republican audience in the South.

Don’t Be Denied – “a documentary film about the life and times of Neil Young” – makes a sometimes brilliant attempt at telling Neil’s story in the aforementioned hour and is full of fascinating moments and boasts some great archive footage of Buffalo Springfield, Crazy Horse and solo performances. The film was made from three hours of interview shot in New York and California, and uses previously unseen performance footage from the star’s own extensive archives. It also features cohorts Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Nils Lofgren and James Taylor. There’s also terrific interview content with the legendary contrarian, filmed over nine months in New York and California, Neil living up entirely to his reputation as someone you would be ill-advised to mess with, on any level you might care to consider. The film ends with Young still refusing to be denied, on tour in the USA with CSNY.