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Music documentaries: recommend something!

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Yes we've all seen man in the sand, IATTBYH, and Ashes. I'm getting really into music docs so I'd love to hear some good suggestions.


Stuff I've seen recently that gets top marks


Smashing Pumpkins - live at the Metro

Nirvana live at Paramount

Shut Up and Dance (LCD Soundsystem)

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The Devil & Daniel Johnston (Daniel Johnston)

Watch Me Jumpstart (Guided By Voices)



The Decline of Western Civilization

Exploration of the early-80s LA hardcore scene. With X, Fear, Circle Jerks, The Germs, and a bunch more.


Theremin: An Electronic Odyessy

The story of the first-ever electronic musical instrument, and its Russian inventor.

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Not sure if it is completely a documentary, per se, but I think it qualifies:

32 Short Films About Glenn Gould

It's exactly what the title says that it is. Some of them are documentary, others are dramatizations, others are purely abstract. But it's all worthwhile.

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There's so many great ones.


If you like jazz...or hell, even if you don't there's a good chance you will after seeing these:


A Great Day in Harlem


Thelonious Monk: Straight No Chaser


Jazz on a Summer's Day (1958 Newport Jazz Festival. Not strictly jazz, as it also features some rock and gospel acts)

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I searched for it, but I think it was promo only, but there was an awesome documentary about Daniel Lanois after his album For The Beauty of Winona came out. I'm still completely enamoured with that album, and he's never done another one as good, IMO. I have this promo doc on a VHS tape I bought from Amoeba Records in the mid 90s. Lanois really had it going on there in the 90s, at least for stuff I like. I gotta get that thing transfered to DVD!


And ditto on the Tom Petty documentary. Its the kind of film that might surprise people who don't consider Petty to be a substantial artist. Bogdanovich did a superb job. The four hours long version is the way to go, too.


I always thought of The Last Waltz as more of a concert film than a documentary since its more about music performances than information. The interview parts are not that good (can't stand the parts with the ultra-arrogant Robbie and Marty. Can't believe they left in that part where Robbie catches a fly with his bare hands. It must've been all the cocaine muddling up their minds) and I always wish there was a version without them, so I could just enjoy the concert straight through. I agree that it is one of the greatest concert films of all time.


Wait a minute, Turnips are you asking about concert films or documentaries? To me, they are different, but I see your examples in your initial post seem to be what I'd consider concert films. That's an entirely different list for me.


Rolling Stones - Ladies and Gentlemen

My Morning Jacket - Okonokos

Manassas - live on German TV

Page Plant - Unledded

Led Zeppelin - Albert Hall 1970 (in that live DVD set, whatever its called)

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Rock Prophecies

A documentary about rock 'n' roll photographer Robert M. Knight and his mission to find the world's best new guitar player.

It stars Jeff beck, slash, Santana, Steve Vai.


Some of his photos are the most iconic pics we have all seen. It's a sweet story involving his mother with Alzheimer's also.


Full of interesting facts and quotes that surprised me. :) enjoy!


And on Netflix

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Look up the "Classic Albums" series. They are documentaries on the making of many famous albums, featuring the artists, producers, engineers, etc. The Dark Side of the Moon episode is incredible.


There's a couple of those that are really fantastic, DSOTM included, but alot of them don't really offer any in depth info on the making of the albums. It's cool to hear isolated tracks and all that, but they're just short on actual info. Watch the recently release WIsh You Were Here doc and those just don't compare at at all.

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