It’s 2019 and this year there are more compelling, inspiring and outright outrageous music documentaries to watch than ever before. This recent decade has seen films like Amy and Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck enjoy significant popularity through cinema releases and features on streaming services. It’s the golden age of cinematic musical storytelling, the one downside being simply, choosing…
As a musician, I’ve seen countless documentaries from the legendary masterpieces to the tragically awful. Some were recommended to me by friends and musicians, some I’ve found myself and some I questioned how I ever ended up watching them.
It can be arduous searching for and choosing a worthwhile documentary and it’s all the more disappointing when you watch one and want that hour or two of your life back. So, I felt now was the right time to compile a list of my favourite top 10 musical documentaries which you can use to help you and your friends find your new favourite.
This list includes a few of the major recent films but also some of the more underrated documentaries that you might not have seen or heard of before. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for some special mentions and leave a comment if you’ve watched some and want to share your thoughts or perhaps you have your own top 10 list?
It’s worth noting, I don’t listen to or even like some of the bands music featured in these films, but you can still share their musical journey and take something from each story.
Dec Burdge (Brockley Forest)
10. We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! (Twisted Sister) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MW5VD5rx2tQ
You probably hate their music but you have to respect and commend this band’s determination and work ethic. A great lesson on the power of persistence and not giving a damn what anyone else thinks about you.
9 . The Story of Anvil (Anvil) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHupiYvm8zo
I feel like this is the brother equivalent to Twisted Sister. Another band you have to respect for not giving up on the dream. The real Spinal Tap.
8. I hate the way you love (The Kills) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKeOdfViARw
A short but sweet lo-fi documentary capturing life on the road with one of the coolest duos in music.
7. Under Great Northern Lights (The White Stripes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYGt3i1DjFA
A magical insight into an iconic musical duo. While most bands were ordered to tour the necessary circuits and cities around the world to capitalise on their success, Jack and Meg embark on a cross-country Canadian tour to accomplish their goal of performing in every province and territory across the expansive northern nation.
6. Supersonic (Oasis) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9waBd3yPOLE
This film documents the meteoric rise of The Gallagher Brothers and of course their debaucherous rock n roll antics, inevitably propelling them to international fame and notoriety. As Liam says ‘it’s biblical’.
5. Don’t look back (Bob Dylan) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnl5X5MQKTg
I am a fan of Scorsese’s ‘No Direction Home’ on Dylan but there’s something about this one which felt more special. If anything, it’s fascinating just to watch everyday 60s English life go by in black and white.
4. Universal Mind of Bill Evans (Bill Evans) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwXAqIaUahI
One of the greatest minds of the twentieth century and simply a man of great wisdom. Listen closely and you can learn some profound lessons, not just in music, but in life itself.
3. Searching for Sugar man (Rodriguez) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL5TffdOQ7g
This story blew my mind. An unbelievable documentary from an unlikely musical hero.
2. Dig (Brian JonesTown Massacre/Dandy Warhols) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUZDSzE3qIQ
A shocking and hilarious film about friendship, rivalry and chaos. Highly recommended.
Hullaballoo documentary (Muse) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnoVtAX9eik
To most people, this will be a surprising and debatable number 1 choice. However, in my opinion Muse in 2001 were at their absolute peak and their live DVD took them to a whole new level for me. In the Hullaballoo DVD, was disk 1 - live show at the Paris Zenith and disk 2 - tour documentary. This documentary changed everything for me and has inspired me to pursue my passions of travelling, playing music and living a life of adventure with your friends. I’d like to thank my good friend and fellow musician Harriet Mason for exposing me to this revelation.
*Please note the link to this is not the full documentary. I recommend either buying the DVD or looking elsewhere online to find the full version.
0. Special mention: Once https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWJIylZ8VyM
Technically this isn’t a documentary so I didn’t include in the top 10 documentary list but in my opinion it’s the most underrated music film ever made. Made for a budget of just €112,000, it’s an uplifting and beautiful story starring two struggling musicians in Dublin, Ireland.
I hope you enjoyed the list. Do feel free to comment and share your own top 10 lists.
For those of you that thought €112,000 was a small budget, you can watch my first ever band tour video which was made with a £50 camera and gigs around the UK from Plymouth to the Peak District https://www.facebook.com/BrockleyForest/videos/1275921879102214/