What are the best rock docs?
Hey, I’ve got a question for you: We agree that The Last Waltz is a great rock documentary, right? And the imminent release of director Taylor Hackford’s massively expanded 1987 Chuck Berry concert docu, Hail! Hail! Rock & Roll (over seven added hours!) is, trust me, full of good stuff.
But after that, what are the best rock & roll concert films? Two contenders are released this week, both directed by D.A. Pennebaker:
Monterey Pop, the Summer of Love souvenir of the 1967 show, starred Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, the Mamas and the Papas, and the Who, among others. It is, inevitably, uneven, but Pete Townshend smashing his guitar and Hendrix setting fire to his, and the sight of (okay, I admit a childhood crush) a young Michelle Phillips swaying to the Mamas and the Papas’ harmonies make for great viewing.
And so does the one-disc Jimi Plays Monterey/Shake! Otis at Monterey — longer looks at these late titans at the Monterey Pop Festival. There’s a freshness and spontenaeity to their music that makes you realize how bright and malleable this genre we called rock was at that point in its history.
But what’s the best rock documentary, as far as you’re concerned? Is it a documentary that offers more than just music, but also insights into a performer’s off-stage personality? If so, is it the Pennebaker/Bob Dylan film Don’t Look Back? Robert Franks’ suppressed, widely bootlegged, Rolling Stones doc, C—sucker Blues? Is it a concert film of more recent vintage than any of these?
And what rock docs do you wish were available on DVD that aren’t yet? Let me hear you, loud and clear.
(Got a DVD-related question for Ken? Post it here.)