Monday Music List -- Rock and Roll Movies

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Music has been a mainstay of movies since the first talkie: The Jazz Singer. Although there have been a lot of poor movies about Rock and Roll (Streets of Fire) and some just plain weird movies (Magical Mystery Tour), there actually has been a number of very good rock movies both fictional and documentaries. Here some of the best:

Almost Famous (2000). One of my favorite movies. Much of the early film was shot on location in San Diego where Cameron Crowe lived this story. When the Cameron Crowe character finally gets in back stage and Yes is playing on the soundtrack gets me everytime. I’ve watched this movie 15 times and could easily watch 15 more.

Rock and Roll High School
(1979). Goofy fun but the Ramones steal the show. The first scene with the Ramones is classic.

Filth and the Fury (2000). Documentary about the Sex Pistols that is both very well made and extremely interesting. The emotion in Johnny Rotten’s voice when talking about the death of Sid Vicious (“he was one of the Johns?) is palpable.

School of Rock (2003). Wears its love for Rock and Roll on it’s sleeve. The montage with the Jack Black character teaching about the history of rock and The Ramones playing in the background is fantastic.

Dont Look Back (1967). The classic documentary about Dylan in England following his “going electric? at Newport. This is Dylan unfiltered and a critical point in his career. My favorite scene is with Donovan in a hotel room. Donovan sings this song with some flowery Elizabethan lyrics sung to a Dylan tune. Dylan counters with a new song: It’s all over now baby blue and right there you know Donovan will never be “the new Dylan.?

Decline of Western Civilization (1981). Documentary about the L.A. Punks of the early 80’s including X, Fear, Black Flag. Hard to find these days but a perfect document of an important musical scene.

24 Hour Party People (2002). Fun, semi-accurate account of the Manchester scene as seen through the eyes of Tony Wilson. The scenes with Joy Division are fantastic.

I know there are a lot more out there. What have I missed?

20 Comments

i've been browsing the internet for good morning boyfriend by tulip sweet since 2004. today i got the impression YOU once listened to ut! if it's possible: could you please email it me? you would make a very old woman very happy.

O.k. that comment looks like spam, but here's the funny thing. I do have that song on my I-pod. It's actually by Tulip Sweet and her Trail of Tears and it is on the KOUM collection called Stuck on AM 3. I'll e-mail you privately with the song.

In my attempt to cause an uproar at your blog, I'm going to point out you left out This Is Spinal Tap and say I hope you intentionally left it off your list. Has to be the most-quoted, least-laugh-out-loud funny movie ever. It's clever, sure, but actually funny?

Three more docs/performance films to add, though: The Last Waltz, Stop Making Sense, and Tom Waits' Big Time.

And two wonderful time capsules--not necessarily brilliant films, but they capture their eras: Urgh! A Music War to know punk/new wave circa 1981 and The TAMI Show to know music circa 1965 and watch Mick Jagger tremble thinking he has to go one after James Brown.

I actually like "The Buddy Holly Story" quite a bit -- cheesy, but Gary Busey was great.

"La Bamba," despite the great Los Lobos soundtrack, was mostly a snooze.

"Velvet Goldmine," was interesting. Strange, but interesting.

Don't know if this qualifies, but I enjoyed "Once," especially the bit with the band, standing under the Phil Lynot statue, who would "only play Lizzie."

Have not seen "Shine a Light," but the kids loved it.

Did see the recent U2 concert film in IMax 3D -- eye popping, and very cool.

"The Kids Are Alright" is a worthy documentary, and both "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" had their moments.

"Help" and "Hard Days Night" are goofy fun.

That's all I can think of for now.

And, yes, "This is Spinal Tap" IS funny.

I actually like "The Buddy Holly Story" quite a bit -- cheesy, but Gary Busey was great.

"La Bamba," despite the great Los Lobos soundtrack, was mostly a snooze.

"Velvet Goldmine," was interesting. Strange, but interesting.

Don't know if this qualifies, but I enjoyed "Once," especially the bit with the band, standing under the Phil Lynot statue, who would "only play Lizzie."

Have not seen "Shine a Light," but the kids loved it.

Did see the recent U2 concert film in IMax 3D -- eye popping, and very cool.

"The Kids Are Alright" is a worthy documentary, and both "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" had their moments.

"Help" and "Hard Days Night" are goofy fun.

That's all I can think of for now.

And, yes, "This is Spinal Tap" IS funny.

Does Wayne's World count?

We're not worthy!

We're not worthy!

I had Spinal Tap on my list and then forgot to write it up. What a dope. If you get a chance, check out the DVD with the commentary where the band members comment in character. It's a hoot.

The U2 in 3D was great and posted about it, I would condsider Once a good movie to include too.

Oh, two more from the early 80s many folks haven't seen. Starstruck is from Australia and captures the feel of New Wave really really well. A fun flick. More mixed is Get Crazy, which if nothing else offers us Malcolm McDowell more or less doing Mick Jagger and Lou Reed doing Dylan. And over the closing credits he does one of his best non-album tacks, "Little Sister."

You know Jeff, while entertaining, I had a hard time adding those musical biopics to the list. Just couldn't make myself do it. I haven't seen Velvet Goldmine but I've wanted to for a long time. Todd Haynes is a pretty interesting director. I almost included his I'm Not There to this list. Oh and Help! is a mess but Hard Day's Night is actually decent. So is Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas.

I've heard good things about Starstruck, I'll have to check it out.

Also one other movie that just missed the cut was Gimme Shelter. What a harrowing concert! What a way to end the 60's and a pretty prescient portending of the 70's.

Velvet Goldmine is worth a look. Ashamed to admit, but I have not yet seen I'm Not There-- did you like it?

Saw some Clash footage at First Avenue last nite, and it reminded me of another good one: Rude Boy.

Rock and roll has it's roots firmly in black (African American) music. It seems to have its ebbs and flows, most of all evolving and changing with American culture. It has been the soundtrack of our lives.

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