Goodbye 2020! You have gone down in history as the worst year I have ever experienced. And, even though we are now officially in 2021, I still feel as though I have discovered an unlisted bonus track for 2020. You see, my father, who has been so very careful throughout the pandemic at my urging, still contracted COVID and has been hospitalized essentially since December 30. I don’t wish this experience on any of you and your loved ones. Although he is 85 years old, Dad has been an example of great health during his retirement years. I firmly believe he is alive today because he walks three miles a day, five days a week. And, every day he stretches, does 50 pushups and 50 sit-ups. The man is in much better shape than I am these days. But, COVID does not care and affects everyone differently as his wife, my step-mother, was the first to become sick, but her course of the disease was mild and relatively short. So, if you could send my dad, Karl, some positive thoughts or prayers or whatever you do, it would be appreciated.
Several years ago, back when this blog was on Facebook and only some of my friends read it, I did a rather undisciplined ranking of my favorite rock documentaries of all-time. For some reason, one of my former high school friends took massive offense to my ranking and blocked me because I categorized A Hard Day’s Night and the biopic The Runaways as rock feature films, he literally blew a gasket, said some awful things in a post, then blocked me. I was taken aback, but I quickly learned that everyone is passionate about their music, so when you blog about music you will occasionally come under attack. I’m just glad I chose to write about music rather than politics or religion or some non-controversial topic.
Anyway, over the past four or five years, I have watched way more documentaries and in-concert films than I care to admit (but thank goodness for Quello/Stingray and Amazon Prime!), but I definitely feel like I can do the subject more justice than I did in the past. Of course, this will not be in the same category as my Rock Hall observer colleague, Nick Bambach, does in this category, but I will try my best.
This is Day 1 of a two-day miniseries. So, let’s get this thing going.
100. Soul Power (2008)
99. Scott Walker: 30th Century Man (2008)
98. Super Duper Alice Cooper (2014)
97. Until the Light Takes Us (2008). A little film about the Norwegian death metal scene.
96. Supersonic: The Oasis Documentary (2016)
95. The Damned: Don’t You Wish We Were Dead (2016)
94. Buena Vista Social Club (1999)
93. Crossfire Hurricane – The Rolling Stones (2012). A look-back at the band on their fiftieth anniversary as a band.
92. Don’t Look Back – Bob Dylan (1966). The granddaddy of all rockumentaries.
91. New York Doll (2005).
90. Upside Down: The Creation Records Story (2010)
89. The Filth and Fury (2000). The real story of the Sex Pistols…or is it?
88. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story (2019)
87. Dig! (2004). A look at two bands who came out at a moment when fewer people were listening to rock music. The bands? The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
86. Depeche Mode: 101 (1989). A perfectly timed look into the rise of Depeche Mode into a stadium-filling act.
85. Mystify: Michael Hutchence (2019). All about the charismatic lead singer of INXS.
84. Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006).
83. When You’re Strange (2010). A documentary about The Doors.
82. Quincy (2018). Quincy Jones has every right in the world to have a huge ego.
81. Looking for Johnny – The Johnny Thunders Story (2014)
80. Long Strange Trip (2017). Of course it’s about the Grateful Dead.
79. Let It Be (1969). If it was only the last Beatles’ live performance on the rooftop of the Apple Building, this would be noteworthy. And, still it’s more.
78. Athens, GA: Inside and Out (1987). A look at the rock scene of a college town at the dawn of the 80s.
77. The Beatles: Eight Days a Week (2016)
76. ZZ Top: That Little Old Band from Texas (2019)
75. A Band Called Death (2012). An ode to the Detroit punk band that imploded before they could get their due in the 70s.
74. The Decline of the Western Civilization (1981). The first entry by future Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris’ look into the LA punk/hardcore scene of the early 80s.
73. Herb Alpert Is… (2020)
72. Marley (2012). It’s about Bob, not that dog in that lame movie with Owen Wilson.
71. Joan Jett: Bad Reputation (2018)
70. Live Aid (2004). The concert event of my generation.
69. Urgh! A Musical War (1981). This was the punk world before there was MTV.
68. This Is It (2009). A look at Michael Jackson’s preparation for his big concert comeback at the O2 in London in the weeks leading up to his death.
67. Dave Chapelle’s Block Party (2006). Exactly what the title says!
66. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco (2002)
65. New Order: Decades (2018)
64. U2: Rattle and Hum (1988)
63. Searching for Sugarman (2012)
62. Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986)
61. The Secret to a Happy Ending: A Documentary About the Drive-By Truckers (2011)
60. Taylor Swift: Miss Americana (2020)
59. The Beatles Anthology (1995-1996)
58. Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé (2019)
57. Muscle Shoals (2013). The magic was in the studio’s musicians, a coterie of forward-thinking good old Southern boys.
56. The Wrecking Crew (2008). The best of the LA session players.
55. The Black Godfather(2019). Clarence Avant is the mastermind and mentor behind nearly every black person in the entertainment industry.
54. Shut Up and Play the Hits (2012). Follow the LCD Soundsystem as they prepare for their “farewell” concert.
53. Jingle Bell Rocks! (2014). All about the everyday Joes who collect Christmas music.
52. American Hardcore (2006). The whole American alternative nation began with these bands, like Black Flag, Hüsker Dü and the rest.
51. Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band (2019)
50. Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (2007)
49. Sound City (2013). Dave Grohl! Was it the soundboard or the building that made the studio so great?
48. It Might Get Loud (2008). Answers the unasked question as to what would happen if Jimmy Page, The Edge of U2 and Jack White all got together with their guitars?
47. Pick It Up! – Ska in the 90s (2020). Of course, No Doubt’s in it! Gwen Stefani sells.
46. If I Leave Here Tomorrow – A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd (2018)
45. Oil City Confidential (2009). A look back at the big pre-punk English band Dr. Feelgood and why they never reached the stardom that many thought they were destined for.
44. Sign o’ the Times (1987). Nothing better than Prince in concert.
43. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)
42. Duran Duran: There’s Something You Should Know (2018)
41. Monterrey Pop (1968). The first really big rock festival gets the documentary treatment.
40. End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones (2003)
39. Seven Ages of Rock (2007). A British mini-series that attempted to tell the story of rock history from 1965 to the then-present.
38. The History of Rock & Roll (1995). Under the supervision of Quincy Jones, Time/Life satisfyingly tackles a huge chunk of history in music. Sure, there are holes, so I would love to see this series updated.
37. Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2009). Anvil, one of those heavy metal also-rans continue to chase the golden ring, showing the love between the two original members. Heartwarming, funny and maybe a little sad all at the same time.
36. What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015). Nina Simone is one of music’s most compelling characters.
35. The Kids Are Alright (1979). A great look into The Who.
34. Hip-Hop Evolution (2016 – 2019). Netflix did a fantastic job with this series about the history of rap music.
33. Woodstock (1970). No way this one could be left off the list.
32. Amazing Grace (1972). Aretha Franklin, at the height of her powers, going back to her gospel roots? Yes please!
31. ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (2019). Netflix’ ReMastered series has had some excellent episodes, but this one about Sam Cooke is mesmerizing.
30. Hired Gun (2017). Being hired to be in a star’s band includes many highs and lows.
29. The Decline of the Western Civilization: The Metal Years (1988). Spheeris really solidified her documentary credentials with this look at the hair metal scene on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood in the mid-80s.
28. No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005). Dylan gets his first Scorsese treatment.
27. Gimme Shelter (1969). Many consider this to be the definitive film about The Stones.
26. Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America (2019). Who better than ?uestlove and Black Thought to tell the history of hip hop through the most important songs of the genre. Absolutely brilliant!
Well, folks, we’ll pick up here tomorrow! Peace.