The Great Rock And Roll Swindle
In 1980, Julien Temple created a mockumentary about the Sex Pistols with the band and management’s full cooperation. What followed was a 103 minute saga detailing the band’s rise and fall through the eyes of their manager Malcolm McLaren who claims that he created the band and their image from the ground up, manipulating every aspect of their career with Machiavellian skill. In 2000, Temple released a follow-up called The Filth and the Fury in which the band refutes McLaren’s claim of creating the band.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil
Anvil should have been one of the biggest metal acts in the 80s. Nearly twenty-five years later its members were working in construction, homeless, or driving a catering truck. This documentary follows a band that inspired Metallica and Anthrax as they try to embark on a European tour that includes sleeping in train stations and playing to empty venues. Have you ever seen This Is Spinal Tap? It’s the same thing, but it's not a mockumentary and that makes it infinitely more tragic.
The Beatles Anthology
You knew they were going make the list at some point. This massive effort documents every facet of The Beatles’ career. Seriously, it’s massive. In addition to the four disc DVD, there is an accompanying three double albums worth of music, featuring alternate takes and unused demos. Plus there's a book, which is filled with interviews arranged so they give a more or less chronological view of the band’s history. Although most of the stories and anecdotes are already familiar to hardcore fans, if you have the time The Beatles Anthology is definitely worth checking out.
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco
Everyone agrees Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is an amazing album, possibly one of the best albums of the 2000s. But Wilco’s label, Reprise, didn’t agree. Sam Jones' documentary follows the band as they record their masterpiece, only to be dropped by the label and then picked up again once word spreads about the album’s brilliance. The film also follows the escalating tension between members Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett, leading to Bennett’s exit from the band.
The Last Waltz
The definitive rock documentary and the second on the list directed by Martin Scorsese. Essentially a farewell concert for The Band, it includes segments about The Band’s trials and triumphs, featuring guest performances from Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Ringo Starr. Although the Robbie Robertson talking head segments can wear on you, the film is filled with great music from legends at the top of their game.
(Elford Alley has written plays, sketch comedy, and short stories. He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and daughter. Follow Elford on Twitter.)