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Shut Up and Play the Hits

Rent from US$ 2.99 OR Own from US $ 6.99

A look at the last days of LCD Soundsystems - one of the most celebrated bands of its generation. NEW YORK Magazine called their final concert "a marvel of pure craft and TIME Magazine lamented "we may never dance again."

Shut Up and Play the Hits, a film immortalising the sweat-drenched final show of New York indie band LCD Soundsystem, doesn't need displays of rock star excess to make for compelling viewing, writes James Lachno.



Dir: Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace

This film immortalising the final live show in 2011 of influential New York indie band LCD Soundsystem proves 'rockumentaries' don’t need explosive fall-outs or displays of hedonism to make compelling viewing.

Produced by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, the team men behind acclaimed Blur documentary No Distance Left To Run, the film is as much about the group’s enigmatic 41-year-old leader James Murphy – who looks more like an unshaven accountant than a rock singer – as their four-hour finale at Madison Square Gardens.

Clips of the live performance are interpolated with amusing snippets of Murphy going about his daily business in the days prior, but the core of the film is an extended interview with him by American music essayist Chuck Klosterman. Murphy comes across as articulate and self-effacing as he grapples with the onset of middle age and his desire to settle down – a theme which increasingly replaced self-referential inside jokes in his lyrics over the course of the band's three albums.

LCD Soundsystem started in 2002 as his solo studio venture, so the focus on Murphy is understandable, but one wonders whether an outside perspective on the frontman, from his bandmates or his manager, might have offered additional insight.

Nevertheless, his cohorts are given their moment via the DVD extras, which include the group’s sweat-drenched swansong in its entirety. “If it’s a funeral, let’s have the best funeral ever,” is the documentary’s rallying cry – judging by the thrilling footage, this is precisely what they did.

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Searching For the Sugar Man

Own from US$ 13.99

Searching For Sugar Man tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest 70s Rock icon who never was. After being discovered in a Detroit bar. Rodriguez's sound struck 2 renowned producers and they signed a record deal. But when the album bombed, the singer disappeared into obscurity. A bootleg recording found it's way into apartheid South Africa and over the next two decades , he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero.

Searching For Sugar Man: myth-making at its best?

By Rebecca L. Stewart

Pushed as one of the serious contenders for best documentary Oscar this year, Searching for Sugar Man is the story of the folk music hero that never was; a rags-to-rags fable of one the most original voices of the sixties and seventies reduced to laboring on building sites. Sixto Rodriguez: a major star and hero in South Africa (unbeknownst to him), a man so mysterious he was rumoured to have self-immolated on stage. What happened to him? If only two music geeks would hunt him down and resurrect him from the ashes!

Like many who enjoyed Sugar Man I raced to Guitar Tabs online to learn some of his beautiful, intriguing chords, and skedaddled to the record store to buy his only two albums. But I am not a serious music lover with a degree in one-upmanship. I am not an investigative journalist. I am, however, a fan of something known as ‘the world wide web’, and another thing known as ‘the independent music store’, and after a bit of minor digging I found that Sugar Man raises more questions than it answers.

The myth begins with two record producers from Sussex Records discovering Rodriguez in a dingy Detroit bar in 1969. The soulful folk/blues performer is too shy to face his audience, but the producers see enough of Dylan in him to help record his first album Cold Fact, which instantly flops in the States. The second, Coming From Reality in 1971 does the same, and Rodriguez is dropped from the label to fade into obscurity. In the meantime, Cold Fact gets picked up in South Africa (at that time politically and culturally isolated by a worldwide trade embargo), spread via word-of-mouth and pirated copies. With little information getting in or out of the country and rumours abounding, many South African fans believe their hero, as ubiquitous in any music collection as the Beatles, to be dead.

Sugar Man’s Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul picks up the tale here, following journo Craig Bartholomew Strydom and music store owner Stephen “Sugar” Segerman on their quest to find out what happened. The film follows all the archetypal phases of the mythic journey – from the call to adventure, crossing the threshold, descent to the underworld and ultimately the resurrection – to Sugar Man’s emotional conclusion, his ‘comeback’ concert in Cape Town in 1998. To all the family, friends and fans involved, it’s a fitting denouement.

While people seldom let the truth get in the way of a good story, this nearly universally acclaimed ‘documentary’ seems to have well and truly blurred the lines between fact and fiction.

The main puzzle Sugar Man doesn’t solve is record sales. Why don’t we find out why Rodriguez or his record companies didn’t know about the astounding sales or megastar status enjoyed in South Africa for years and years? Was it a genuine oversight (of the sort that happens to many back catalogues) after Sussex Records was dissolved? Or was it something more? According to interviews with the director, many factors contributed to this curious lapse, and he’s overtly stated “the story really isn’t about money.” The missing record sales and Rodriguez’ innocence of his worldwide fame is, however, the central premise of the documentary. Beyond asking Sussex Records’ Clarence Avant (who conveniently brushes it aside), more scientific prospecting could have revealed some gold.

Despite all the lonely images of him walking Detroit’s snow-blasted streets, it transpires that Rodriguez performed quite regularly through the years. He was also a huge star in Australia, touring regularly and going five times platinum at a time when, according to the doco, the trail went cold. Fans in other southern African countries and New Zealand weren’t exactly indifferent to him either.

He toured Australia in 1979, 1981, 2007 and beyond, with the Mark Gillespie Band and Midnight Oil, and for the East Coast Blues & Roots Festival. Local label Blue Goose Music released a bunch of his music in the mid-‘70s, and based on his Aussie performances, they also released the album Alive (the title a play on his rumoured death). The song ‘Sugar Man’ featured

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Greenwich Village - Music That Defined a Generation

Rent from US$ 3.99 OR Own from US$ 8.99

Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation: Lots of Seeger, Not Much Dylan

 


 

Laura Archibald makes revolution look easy. In the Canadian director’s paean to the counterculture that bloomed in early-’60s Greenwich Village, the enemies are all external, the intentions of the young are all unassailable, and the polemics that flow from the mouths of the poets and folk singers are the natural-born truth, delivered from Mother Earth to the bohemian soul via the holey soles of their worn leather boots.

Of course, it wasn’t that easy. As we know from more satisfying chronicles of the time—Martin Scorsese’s Bob Dylan doc, No Direction Home, or the Phil Ochs–focused There But for Fortune, for instance—the Village was like any other community, filled with acrimony, populated by winners and losers. (This is the same setting for the Coen brothers’ acclaimed new Inside Llewyn Davis, due in December.)

To her credit, Archibald’s scope is much wider than a portrait of any single artist. Her doc isn’t a revisionist history, just a reductive one that reflects its subjects’ self-serving memories.

Luckily, it’s an entertaining roster she has gathered. Pete Seeger, Kris Kristofferson, Peter Yarrow, the Simon sisters, Judy Collins, and many more tell anecdote after anecdote of an undeniably fascinating moment in American culture, accompanied by grainy old footage of protests and performances. The doc’s portrait of Richie Havens, the recently deceased singer/songwriter, is alone worth the ticket price. He provides one of the most succinct definitions of folk music I have heard, and his performance of “Freedom” is jaw-dropping. Most of the old TV clips are engrossing—in particular, performances of “Thirsty Boots” by Eric Andersen, “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” by Ochs, “Night in the City” by Joni Mitchell, and “Turn Turn Turn” by Seeger and Collins. Archibald also does a fine job explaining the folk boom, from Woody Guthrie to Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music to the hugely influential ’50s folk group the Weavers.

The film’s pivot point is the 1961 confrontation in Washington Square after the city outlawed singing on Sundays. Yet the scene’s internal conflicts are missing here. Dylan, in particular, gets a pass: There’s no discussion of his possible appropriation of other artists’ work, no mention of his tumultuous times with Joan Baez (who’s strangely absent from the doc). Archibald basically ignores the coming of rock. Only during the final credits do we witness Seeger railing against Dylan’s electric-guitar apostasy. But that’s another movie.

mbaumgarten@seattleweekly.com


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Beware of Mr Baker. At home with rock 'n' roll monster Ginger Baker, Cream's legendary scarlet-maned, hell-raising drummer.

Rent from US$ 3.99 OR Own from US$ 9.99

Ginger Baker looks back on his musical career with Cream and Blind Faith; his introduction to Fela Kuti; his self-destructive patterns and losses of fortune; and his current life inside a fortified South African compound.

Directed by; Jay Bulger

Stars; Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton, Stewart Copeland etc...


Beware of Mr Baker – review

by Peter Bradshaw @ The Guardian, Fri 17th May, 2013.

A documentary about the angriest old man of music, drummer Ginger Baker, who is filmed whacking the interviewer with his cane, can only be enthralling

A refreshing aspect of this film about Ginger Baker, the legendary 73-year-old rock and jazz drummer, and former smackhead given to smacking people in the head, is that it doesn't mention the phrase "national treasure". This status is traditionally conferred on England's ageing rebels whose cantankerous and reactionary tendencies are thought to be picturesque. However, it is perhaps worrying that the chief character witness for Baker, produced in the opening few minutes, is the hectoringly pop-eyed John Lydon, who recently distinguished himself by telling a woman interviewer: "When a man is talking, you do not interrupt."

Probably music's angriest old man, Baker gives the American journalist and film-maker Jay Bulger pure film gold – that Bulger uses at the beginning and end of his documentary – by getting furious on discovering that people other than him were to be interviewed, and actually whacking Bulger in the face with his cane. Thank heaven the director didn't raise that other very English subject with him: anti-ginger prejudice. He could have found himself being buried in some corner of the gated South African compound where Baker now lives with his fourth wife, and where Bulger correctly notes that the country's laws are unenforceable.

Baker was the brutally brilliant drummer who became the percussive wild man with Cream, alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, and other bands such as Blind Faith. He also has a genuine claim to be the first western musician to investigate and popularise African music, setting up a short-lived recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria, in the early 1970s, making music with Fela Kuti – and bizarrely acquiring a rich man's taste for polo. He was apparently cheerfully indifferent to that city's scary reputation, until he was effectively chased out of the country by some heavy characters. After stints in Italy and the United States, the expatriate Baker has wound up in South Africa, where he has blown all the cash he got for the 2005 Albert Hall Cream reunion on a string of polo ponies, and grumpily complains that he is now "broke". Sitting plumply in a recliner, Baker gives Bulger his audience, cross and obnoxious throughout, often denouncing his interviewer as a "dickhead", and wearing dark glasses. Some earlier interview footage shows Baker with a faster, lighter voice. Now it has slowed and deepened into a resentful groan.

Baker grew up during the second world war, and took to heart a letter left for him when he was 14 by his late father: "Use your fists; they are your best pals." This he did, but Bulger's film shows how his aggression was poured out on to the drumkit, tempered with talent and a sense of what Baker gnomically calls not rhythm but "time".

Baker became acquainted with the soon-to-be-big names in the 1960s, but becomes noticeably nettled when Bulger asks about them. The thought of "effeminate" Mick Jagger makes him seethe. "I thought, 'Who is this stupid little cunt?' I terrified the shit out of him." Later, he would punch Cream bassist Bruce, on stage, out of pure, fanatical dislike.

The film's best moment is something that goes beyond anything in This Is Spinal Tap. When poor Steve Winwood was forming the band that was to become Blind Faith, Ginger simply showed up uninvited at the first meeting, and asked when they were starting. Out of embarrassment and fear, they had to let Ginger be the drummer. He rattled on from band to band, indulging in hookers and groupies on the road, and leaving wife and children behind to deal with heartbreak and bankruptcy.

Bulger has access&

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Reincarnated

Rent from US$ 3.99 OR Own from US$ 9.99

Hip Hop artist Snoop Dogg changes his name to Snoop Lion, travels to Jamaica, emerges himself in Rastafarian culture and produces his first reggae record.

Directed by Andy Capper

This feature-length documentary follows the weed-loving star as he switches from rap to reggae


By Brent Faulkner, April 25th, 2013

Snoop Lion arrives as the alter ego of veteran west coast rapper Snoop Dogg. Switching gears from a comfort zone of gangsta rap, Snoop’s 2013 effort Reincarnated, released via RCA, is a reggae album. Throughout the course of the 12-track set (16 tracks in deluxe form), Snoop Lion sings or pop-raps, never assimilating into his traditional MC flow. Another break with the past comes with Snoop’s eschewal of the infamous parental advisory label. The ‘reincarnated’ artist keeps things relatively clean. While the new Snoop refrains from many of the excesses of his gangsta past, he does, in Jamaican/reggae tradition, continue to assert his love for weed. Look no further than Reincarnated’s smoke-filled cover art.

“Rebel Way” opens Reincarnated with great promise. The production work balances traditional reggae cues while keeping in step with contemporary production work. Snoop Lion delivers his verses soundly enough, though it is the hook that highlights: “You can’t run away, run away / you gotta face this… time is moving fast.” “Here Comes the King” follows capably, featuring vocal assistance from Angela Hunte, who thrills on the hook. Even given the positive message of rising above haters, Snoop’s best line comes way of “Ganja makes me lord of the land.” Closing a solid opening trio, “Lighten Up” features Mavado and Popcaan, both Jamaican musicians. Possessing the total package, “Lighters Up” benefits from superb production and being enjoyable.

“So Long” remains pleasant, if less alluring, adhering to more of a traditional reggae sound. “Get Away” proves even less triumphant, in spite of slick production work. Manic and overambitious, the song is all over the place. Single “No Guns Allowed” atones, featuring Snoop’s daughter Cori B as well as Canadian rapper Drake. Drake delivers one of the best moments: “Bullets do not choose a victim / it is the shooter that picks ‘em / they just can’t wait to get you in the system / the district attorney could use a conviction.” “Fruit Juice” contrasts by going smaller, while the obligatory ode to marijuana arrives via “Smoke the Weed”, featuring Collie Budz. The hook is simple and direct: “Smoke the weed, everyday / don’t smoke the seeds, no way / smoke the weed.” Profound it ain’t, but Snoop also manages to tie in mother nature.

“Tired of Running” is assured, given its cover status (from Akon’s 2006 album Konvicted). From thereon, things take a questionable turn. “The Good Good”, featuring Iza, is merely good enough and nothing more while “Torn Apart”, featuring British pop star Rita Ora, sounds more quirky and unexceptional than valedictory. Worse is the album’s most shocking collaborative effort, “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks” featuring Miley Cyrus. Cyrus’s vocals are incredibly quick, over-processed, and barely decipherable on the hook. While the song has good intentions with its weighty message, it just misses the mark. The deluxe version is four cuts deeper. “La La La”, the best of the bonus quartet, would’ve been at home on the standard edition.

Uneven though sometimes enjoyable, Reincarnated is surprisingly better than expected. That said, the effort still stumbles into the pitfalls of a musician altering his direction and leaving his comfort zone. Snoop Lion pulls off this album off stronger than Lil Wayne did rock (Rebirth), but still, Snoop is best suited spitting over luxurious west-coast beats.


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Greetings From Tim Buckley

Rent from US$ 6.99 OR Own from US$ 13.99

Greetings From Tim Buckley

Penn Badgley

Directed by Daniel Algrant
Review by Peter Travers for The Rolling Stone Magazine (America).


May 2, 2013

Aspiring musician Jeff Buckley (Penn Badgley), 24, leaves California for New York in 1991 to reluctantly perform in a concert tribute, at Brooklyn's St. Ann's Church, to his singer-songwriter father, Tim Buckley, who died of a heroin overdose in 1975, at 28.

That's pretty much what there is of narrative drive in Greetings From Tim Buckley. Yet director Daniel Algrant, working from a script by Emma Sheanshang and David Brendel, etches a haunting tone poem about the bond between a father and son who barely knew each other. In flashbacks, we see Tim (Ben Rosenfield) building a career that included nine albums with scant attention to family, except for sneaking into the home of his ex-wife to watch his son in his crib.

Algrant mostly dodges tear-jerking with the help of actors who stay alert to nuance, including Norbert Leo Butz as Hal Willner, the concert organizer, and a radiant Imogen Poots as Allie, an intern who tags along as Jeff visits his dad's old haunts instead of rehearsing.

Badgley, best known for playing "lonely boy" Dan Humphrey on Gossip Girl, is a revelation. He wears his role like a second skin, catching Jeff's quirky humor (a scene at a record store where Jeff imitates rock legends is a blast) and the raw nerve he exposed in his vocals. At the concert, singing Tim's "Once I Was" a cappella when a guitar string breaks, an unknown reveals the artist he will become. Jeff's accidental drowning death in 1997, at 30, underscores the sense of loss in a heartfelt and deeply moving film. It'll get to you.



 

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