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Docn' - A Celebration of the Music Documentary
17 minutes | Oct 17, 2021
VH1's Behind the Music - Sneak Preview
This month we are excited to discuss the monumental music documentary series, VH1's Behind the Music, which aired from 1997 to 2014. This topic is too expansive for a single podcast episode so we are making it a multi-parter. This week the Docn' crew got together to assign viewing homework to each host for a show-and-tell to be released 14 days from now. With the help of random episode generation technology, Adam, Carolyn, and Andrew find out what Behind the Music they will be watching in this episode. We thought it best to live-record the random picks and resulting emotions therein.
64 minutes | Sep 27, 2021
The breakthrough 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik by The Red Hot Chili Peppers turned 30 this month, and our latest Docn' episode concerns Funky Monks, a promotional vehicle/making-of documentary about that very album. Funky Monks was directed by Gavin Bowden and released one day after Blood Sugar Sex Magik, an accompanying visual spectacle to pair with an album that would (it turns out) need very little of a push to become not just tremendously successful but also instrumental in the evolution of what was then known as “alternative” rock. Funky Monks shows the band at a creative apex and on the cusp of major changes, and without hyperbole at what is possibly the most defining and important part of their career.
57 minutes | Sep 13, 2021
In 2003 director/producer/writer Ondi Timoner posed the following question to a then-theoretical audience: would anyone ever possibly be interested in the travails of two similarly heady and ambitious (and pretty fresh) psych-influenced ‘90s bands meeting in some strange middlespace of warm recognition and mutual respect before taking deeply dark and contested divergent journeys? The answer is ‘YES’!.’ Dig! is a documentary about the muddled relationship between alternative radio darlings The Dandy Wharhols and the more prolific/scattered Brian Jonestown Massacre. The movie reveals an excellent set of contrasts, with one band seemingly on a collision course with stardom (but at what creative cost?) and the other pulling deeper into violence and obscurity as if change the subject. Us three found Dig! to be enlightening and depressing - though for different reasons than when we first saw it - and that alone necessitates this reevaluation.
61 minutes | Aug 22, 2021
Madonna Truth or Dare
For our late summer return your Docn’ pals take a bow with Madonna: Truth or Dare, a 1991 doc directed by Alek Kenshihia (of the feature full-length film With Honors in 1994, and of the 2017 Fergie short “Fergie: Save it Till Morning”) and starring Madonna but personally introducing her coterie of dancers, assistants, stage managers, family, and obscure hangers-on. Truth or Dare was a fantastically successful documentary by most critical and commercial standards, but perhaps because of Madonna’s own constant reinventions or just the fact that it has been thirty dang years since its release, exploring this documentary in 2021 felt both nostalgic and fresh. Join us in cheers for the hardworking staff who made the 1990 Blonde Ambition tour such a success despite seasonal and other mishaps; indulge in jeers for “neat” boy Kevin Costner and the Fascist State of Toronto.
56 minutes | May 10, 2021
Suzi Q - 2019 - dir. Liam Firmager At first blush the Suzi Quatro story might not reveal itself as the most fertile ground for a rockumentary - no singular superstar moments or deep tragedies mark this artist’s upward trajectory. Instead, Quartro’s challenges are dramatic but relatable, and her history contains more slow simmering and less sudden eruption. Quatro’s difficulties with her immediate family (especially her musician sisters) are the product of years of resentment and regret, and likewise, the dogged question about ‘making it’ in the States seem to endlessly pepper press conferences and eat into even good news. But the question of what success ultimately means - and more importantly what it means to Quatro - allow us to witness the bassist and singer-songwriter continuing to self-explore past the constrictive career expectancy of the seventies 'girl rocker' and right into the present day.
64 minutes | Mar 1, 2021
We Are Twisted F***ing Sister!
We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! - 2014 Directed by Andrew Horn This loving glimpse into the early, awkward and very hardscrabble years of heavy metal band Twisted Sister was the final film that would be released by director Andrew Horn before his death in 2019. And while in some fashion a world away from Horn's earlier masterpiece, Nomi Song (released 2004 about German singer and performer Klaus Nomi), We Are Twisted F***ing Sister is also about genesis and growth, struggles to sustain and create an identity, and the often intense bonds between an artist and audience. Ending before Twisted Sister became a national name or an infamous one, the movie concentrates on the band's (absolutely punishing) working schedule, their many misses and few big hits, and their attempts to bridge the Long Island scene with the entire listening world. Last note: This is definitely our most lively episode, and we hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed recording it.
44 minutes | Nov 26, 2020
The Last Waltz -
The Last Waltz - 1978 Directed by Martin Scorsese Martin Scorsese’s 1978 filmic celebration of The Band’s final performance (and more) has become so speculative and controversial since its release that a new viewer is almost better off jumping cold turkey into this historical and musical fray and letting the film wash over them like so many gallons of hard cider. The concert that ended the sixteen years of The Band’s touring took place on Thanksgiving Day in 1976 at the first venue they played under that name and features a gaggle of guest performers and a devoted audience. While The Last Waltz is barely a “Thanksgiving” movie in any obvious sense, as The Band pays tribute to their influences and contemporaries the mutual chords of appreciation and nostalgia reverberate into that unmistakable frequency.
55 minutes | Nov 15, 2020
Glastonbury Fayre - 1972 Directed by Nicholas Roeg Glastonbury Festival as we know it today is regarded as formative and sprawling, the kind of highly coordinated event required to book not just massive superstars (Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar) but what the festival itself calls "the tapas Glastonbury experience," or varied entertainments and adventures off the main stage. But in 1971 the Festival was not the Festival at all but Glastonbury Fair, and unlike its many future incarnations it centered around one singular vision - a performance stage built like a pyramid upon and around which positive human passions could commingle. Musical acts were eclectic and ranged from progressive stalwarts (Traffic, Fairport Convention) to what have landed as more obscure or specialized (Family, Terry Reid, Arthur Brown). Likewise the spirituality was grab-bag, from Sunday Mass to - as we discuss - a bit of an oopsie when the wrong Eastern spiritualist was booked for an appearance. Other puzzles include the fact that David Bowie performed but was not captured for this documentary, and that The Grateful Dead definitely did NOT perform but were included on the festival soundtrack. Curiosities aside, Glastonbury Fayre is a full, engrossing time capsule that at best reconnects us with the idea of what kinds of spontaneous joy a planned experiment can produce. Spotify Playlist Please follow us on Instagram @rock_doc_talk
61 minutes | Nov 9, 2020
A Poem Is a Naked Person
A Poem is a Naked Person - 2015 Directed by Les Blank Forty years elapsed between the filming of Les Blank’s documentary “about” Leon Russell and its eventual release in 2015, a gap attributed to coagulating bad blood between the central subject and the filmmaker. Blank filmed A Poem Is A Naked Person for two years, observing Russell up close at his Oklahoma studio while also taking short detours into the life of locals and the surrounding scenery. The result is a film that is less a portrait of one musician and more a concentration of countless minutes into just ninety, a view from an arm’s length that is still incredibly personal. Spotify Playlist Please follow us on Instagram @rock_doc_talk
55 minutes | Oct 18, 2020
Lead Sister - The Carpenters
Only Yesterday - 2007 Directed by Samantha Peters Spotify Playlist The Carpenters were a sister and brother duo from California (by way of Connecticut) first associated - often with derision - with the gauzy and sentimental music of the early seventies that began to out-populate the squall of psychedelic and urgent rock that defined the end of the sixties. But after the death of Karen Carpenter at just thirty-two due to complications related to an eating disorder, even the band’s most innocent songs are now retroactively cut with melancholy. As this BBC documentary also reveals, Karen’s silent suffering was part of a pattern as The Carpenters were ground down by the myriad stresses of constantly touring, drug addiction, and broken romance. Alternately cast as simple and doomed, we discuss a film that gives the siblings the nuance they deserve. Special Thanks for research on this episode: Tim Harris, Daniel Gomez Please follow us on Instagram @rock_doc_talk Supplementary Materials:
85 minutes | Sep 22, 2020
1991 The Year Punk Broke - Sonic Youth
1991 The Year Punk Broke Directed by Dave Markey Spotify Playlist For our second episode, our roc’ doc’ watchers leave sunny seventies California and traverse across a decade and over intercontinental borders to witness the workings of a huge European festival tour featuring Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., Gumball, and Babes in Toyland. The film is 1991: The Year Punk Broke, a collection of concerts and other assorted happenings captured on 8mm by Dave Markey and released one year later after Nirvana had effectively conquered the hearts and minds of a generation impassioned with apathy. Through fan interactions, live sets, backstage banter both staged (apparently inspired by the Madonna doc Truth Or Dare, which none of us have seen) and improvised, we get an arm’s length but nonetheless revealing look at bands pushing out of their indie-rock habitats into the inviting if bewildering tendrils of popular culture and mass appeal. Enjoy our Spotify Playlist of songs related to this and other episodes. Please follow us on Instagram @rock_doc_talk What's Supp (Supplementary Materials) Tour Diary by director Dave Markey
62 minutes | Aug 29, 2020
History of the Eagles
Welcome to Docn’, a new podcast of rock doc’ straight talk from old friends Andrew Basile, Carolyn Cunningham, and Adam Schragin. For this first round of rockumentary discussion (or second, as the first attempt to record was destroyed by what we can only assume was an Act of God and/or a preemptive strike from the Henley camp), our trio inexplicably begin with 2013’s History of the Eagles, a more than three-hour exploration into the many ups, downs, and sideways stories that constitute the career and post-career of the inescapable country-rock California band that so defined the seventies. After some brief introductions into Our Life with the Eagles and a bit of stumbling over the band’s origin story, the feathers really start flying as we amateur ornithologists dig into the personalities (or lack thereof) behind the music, including of course "Mr." Don Felder, Timothy “Gacked” Schmit, and a close examination of Glenn Frey's overarching smug doucheness and the unblinking robot anti-magnetism that defines Don Henley. While the final verdict on the documentary (and band) remains passionately mixed, we enjoyed rethinking The Eagles and hope you'll enjoy listening to us hash it out as much as Joe Walsh used to enjoy taking a chainsaw to a hotel room. Spotify Playlist for this episode
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