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Top Musical Documentaries (Part One)

Following on from our continuing mini-series on the top musical biopics, we’re going to look at the best musical documentaries. After all, seeing a Hollywood version of a musician’s life is awesome, but not much can beat seeing the icon themselves on-screen. And we’re starting with…

 

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

Ziggy Stardust, huh? Whatever happened to him? This concert movie, directed by the magisterial DA Pennebaker, followed on a year after David Bowie’s fifth studio album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Originally Pennebaker was brought in to shoot a couple of musical numbers, but quickly realised that the Ziggy set lent itself to a full-length movie. And for that we’re truly grateful. The set itself acted pretty much as Bowie’s greatest hits up to that point, with songs like ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ and ‘Changes’ all making an appearance. The concert also marked the end of Bowie’s Stardust persona, when he told the audience that ‘Not only is this the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do.’

 

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Daniel Johnston isn’t exactly a household name, but if you’re a true music aficionado then you’ll know him as a cult musician. He became pretty big back in the mid- to late-80’s, and when Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain was photographed wearing a t-shirt depicting Johnston’s album artwork, interest grew to a fever pitch. And then… The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a chronicle of the artist’s life, and the schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that plagues him still. The 2005 film is a tender portrait of a man who is blessed with both keen creativity and a demonic, psychotic mania, highlighting, once again, that the measure between genius and insanity is a thin line indeed.

 

Dont Look Back

Back in 1965 professional mumbler Bob Dylan toured the UK. The whole circus was captured on film by – guess who? – DA Pennebaker and released in 1967 as Dont Look Back. Since then it’s become a cultural touchstone, from the opening ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ sequence to Dylan’s now memorable line, ‘Give the anarchist a cigarette’. The film also features the musician’s own philosophical musings (or ramblings, depending on your view-point), his pretty arrogant peacocking, his beautiful roasting of a stuffy Time Magazine correspondent and the break-up of his relationship with singer Joan Baez. Oh, and there’s some cracking tunes in there too, performed at the Royal Albert Hall.

 

If these musicians have inspired you to put on a show, we reckon we can help. Here at London Disco Hire we offer tons of quality equipment, including awesome sound system hire in London. For more info, just contact us on 020 3333 4444 and let’s see what we can do for you. 

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