There’s nothing wrong geeking out to rock. That’s why we love David Crimaldi. You see, David is obsessed with music, and being an American living in Bangkok, he’s taken a keen interest in documenting as best as he can Bangkok’s rock music scene.
The rock philosopher and freelance photojournalist runs his own blog here, and we’re pretty damn stoked that Crimaldi will be geeking out and obsessing over rock in Asia and beyond with us. We’re happy to have him on board and have virtual beer sessions with David over Skype. Yay the internet.
Now onto something more analogue – rock documentaries on video tape.
There are at least 5 projects David has started this morning but now, his attention has turned to rock documentaries.
I used to hate The Brian Jonestown Massacre but one day spent an evening perusing their catalogue and grew to love them. Recently, I’ve had to delete files off my laptop (all the video, audio, and image files!) but left the BJM there, just the BJM.
Anton Newcombe was nuts. Not as nuts as GG Allin but nuts in your typical artist kinda way. Why is it so much fun watching band arguments and fist fights? Somehow they managed to make great music despite being greatly dysfunctional. For some reason it is comforting to know that Newcombe was homeless and could not hold down any kind of job. His passion for music has always carried him. It’s nice to know the guy has kicked drugs and alcohol and is still making music… in Berlin of all places. This is one of my favourite docs and I am sure I am not alone. It rates up there.
Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies
Before director Todd Phillips started making bad comedies like The Hangover, he made a documentary on punk rock singer born in the fires of hell, GG Allin. As a college student with a disdain for everything, I grew a fondness for GG. GG was the closest thing to absolutely-totally-fucking-insane anyone has ever seen or heard and, unless he resurrects from the hell where he most certainly resides in, the world will see no other to top him.
The documentary gives you a rare glimpse into the life of Satan’s punk rock child and his band, The Murder Junkies. If seeing a guy rolling around in shit and blood is too much for you then don’t watch it. However, if that sounds like a walk in the park to you, I have it on DVD and would love to have a private showing of it.
The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years
I was an 80s metalhead. Born in 1974 and growing up in northern New Jersey, there was no escape from the influence of hair or glam metal. I wore all kinds of things that hopefully I was never photographed wearing.
Many of the bands in the documentary directed by Penelope Spheeris made truly god-awful music – KISS stopped making good music probably around the time they took the makeup off. Faster Pussycat, however, were a decent bad while not very original – they took everything from the New York Dolls but still managed to sound raw and sleazy.
Anyway, the doc seems to be a tribute to the debauchery of LA, The Sunset Strip, and a time before anyone realised heroin was bad for you or that Aids was about to put an end to the fun. It was the carefree days in a place where summertime lasted all year. There is a very memorable and much talked about scene where Chris Holmes of the shock rock metal band W.A.S.P. is wasted with a bottle of vodka in a swimming pool while his mother looks on in disapproval – he says some things that kind point to larger issues than leather pants and hair spray. Many believe this was the signal for imminent death of glam metal. Gene Simmons was equally idiotic while getting interviewed in a lingerie shop. Still, I miss the 80s now and again.
New York Doll
There was a myth that once bands got signed, life was a party and you could live happily ever after. This was not true for New York Dolls bassist, Arthur “Killer” Kane. While The Dolls became the blueprint for hair metal, and their end came too soon with the heroin addictions of certain members killing the band off. Arthur Kane had a pretty depressing life post-Dolls and it’s well documented in the film. Kane got some relief from misery when when Steve Morrissey put together a Dolls reunion show in London. Sadly, Kane passed away soon after.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Another tale of the rotten lives rock stars face when returning to the normal world where they wake up in the morning and go to a job they hate just to pay the bills.
I don’t remember Anvil very much – maybe because they were Canadian they slipped from my radar. The documentary follows the lives of Anvil founders Lips and Robb as they keep their metal careers alive while holding down working class jobs in a dreary snow-packed Canada. Rather than seeing superhuman madmen on stage playing guitars with dildos, we see real people struggling to get paid and to keep hope.
The people are more interesting than the music as far as I am concerned but it’s still an enjoyable and inspiring tale.
End Of The Century: The Story Of The Ramones
The Ramones are one of the most beloved bands in music.
A few scrappy kids from a working class neighborhood in Queens hit the ball out of the park as buzz-saw-ripping guitars played ridiculously loud. They hated hippies and they often hated one another. Their legacy lives on and that presidential seal T-shirt with their names on it is everywhere.
Watching the doc, you get the feeling Johnny would be the most difficult asshole to ever be around; Joey could be difficult with his obsessive compulsive disorder; Dee Dee would be completely impossible to deal with and that Tommy Ramone made a good decision by leaving the band in order to become their producer.
Still, God didn’t make us perfect and I still love the stories told from the mouths of the bands’ friends and family. With Joey, Johnny and Dee gone, it’s nice to have this documentary to remember them with… not to mention the music. If you are in New York City, you can go and visit a street renamed Joey Ramone Place as well as Joey’s grave at a graveyard in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.
Long Live The Ramones.
I have always found Lemmy Kilmister a sad guy in interviews. Later on, I got the feeling it was just the fatalism of working class culture and bad weather that shaped him and legions of other great musicians from the UK.
Lemmy is a living legend but the interesting things about him are his relationship with his son, his brutal candidness and his modesty.
My first recollection of Lemmy, was the Killed by Death video where he drives a motorcycle through the wall of his girlfriend’s house in order to pick her up in the living room where her parents are scolding her. It’s good to see these rock star deities down to earth and demythologising the glamorous lives we often think they lead.
Lemmy was around before there was rock ‘n’ roll and a roadie for Jimi Hendrix – he remains a mega Beatles fan. I’ll have to watch this again soon. There’s a touching moment in his apartment off the Sunset Strip with all his belongings including a ton of Nazi memorabilia left to his son. Worth a watch.
As a product of the 70s, it’s a delight for me to have a documentary dedicated to – of all things – the studio and Neve console that was a key piece of technology that produced so many of the greatest albums of the time.
Thank you, Dave Grohl for directing, producing and starring in this great nostalgia flick.
There’s a smattering of rock royalty in this including Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Sir Paul McCartney… and Barry fuckin’ Manilow. If you like nostalgia and taking a trip into rock music history then this is it. The early 70s era is one of my favourites for music – nothing sounded the same afterwards and now we’re doing everything with computers and software. It’s probably due for another watch today.
WATCH IT HERE.
If you are having issues finding copies of the aforementioned documentaries, I’ve got them all. And GG I have on DVD. Out of all of them, Dig! is probably my favourite.
GG is in there just because it’s disgusting on so many levels. And Sound City just for the nostalgia.
I didn’t really get into metal, punk and hardcore documentaries and no doubt there are docs I have forgotten about but this is a decent collection, I think… actually the Anvil doc is awesome if only because there’s snow in it.
And now back to work!
This is an edited version of a David Crimaldi review that originally appeared on his blog.