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Our favourite music documentaries on Netflix

by Jimmy Bartolo 12 Oct 2016

So recently I decided to test drive the increasingly popular Netflix app. After a free month of experimentation and discovery I made up my mind to pursue streaming further and venture beyond the merry episodes of Happy Tree Friends.

Whether to simply pass the time or dig deep into your favorite artist’s work, there’s no denying that a good documentary—overproduced or home video style—can give us unquestionable detail to what really makes a successful musician and more importantly, what truly makes an artist tick. Here’s a few enlightening music productions that are online and ready to stream on Netflix. 

From LA’s finest session players, to the Reggae roots of the Caribbean, kick back and put all other engagements on hold. 

The Wrecking Crew

Director Danny Tedesco follows the story of LA’s legendary session players known professionally as The Wrecking Crew. You may not know their faces but you most definitely know their sound!

Having performed on countless hit singles throughout the 60’s, from The Beach Boys to Sonny & Cher, Tedesco introduces us to the coup of musicians whose friendship and chemistry would be heard on some of the most iconic studio recordings of all time.

Under The Influence

Beautifully shot and poetic dialogues make this recent feature a must see for any music buff. Filmed while recording his latest studio album Cross Eyed Heart, our protagonist takes us through his most cherished memories as a Rock & Roll icon.

We see Richards as he views Richards; charismatic interviews are constant and stories are plentiful. From the Stones’ first landing in America to shooting pool with Buddy Guy, this well produced documentary will leave you enchanted, inspired and aching for a cigarette.

Reincarnated

What some saw as an obvious exploitation of Rastafari culture for the promotion of his Reggae influenced album, I on the other hand was reminded that whether you’re independent or in the spotlight, change is one of the most important things to accept as a growing artist. Snoop Dogg takes us through his early years as a young LA gangster to, dare I say it, an enlightened spiritual musician with more to say than just his urban upbringing.

Though the film’s authenticity may be questioned, it is the plot and narrative guideline that make this an enjoyable feature. I found it entertaining.

Beware of Mr. Baker

A great musician once said, “if you’re gonna play something, play it with some attitude”. As many greats as there have been over the years that have claimed a badass status, I personally don’t think there is anybody that deserves a title like that more than legendary drummer Ginger Baker.

World renowned for his intense drumming technique, it’s no surprise that his lifestyle would also prove to be no different. Well executed story progression and artistically visual interludes, the story of Mr. Baker is one that cannot be made up. More importantly, it leaves you wondering how this man is still around. You may also want to start a band more than ever after watching this.

Just don’t stab the bass player okay?

A Band Called Death

If your music is good then people will hear it. Whether it’s the same year you write it or decades after, someone will eventually come across your creation; and if you are Detroit formed rock band Death, your story will be heard.

Starting off as a funk band in the early 1970’s, Hackney brothers Dannis, Bobby and David would turn their inspiration towards Rock music after watching The Who perform in concert.

Reforming in 2009 after the Drag City label released their 70’s demos for the first time, directors Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino saw an opportunity to tell the world a story of what may have very well been the first Punk band.

What Happened, Miss Simone?

With Liz Garbut as director and Simone’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly serving as the film’s executive producer, it’s no surprise that the content on here is personal as it is entertaining.

Absolutely captivating from beginning to end, this feature is as real as they come. Words could not have been explained better than Michael Hogan’s write up for Vanity Fair stating that, “The risk of making a documentary of a towering artist is that, by explaining her, you only end up diminishing her. Not Nina Simone—not this time. In Liz Garbus’s telling, Simone’s talent and personality shine through, as gloriously singular, and uncontrollable, as ever.”

Marley

From its chilling opening scene portraying the infamous door of no return in West Africa to the spectacular overview of the Caribbean Islands, Marley is one of those documentaries that serves as a reminder of why the world continues to be influenced both musically and politically by The Wailers and lyricism of Bob Marley.

We hear the struggle about the young boy from Nine Mile who, after moving to Kingston, chose music to express himself and bring people together. Apart from the birth of Reggae and the upbringing of a cultural icon, Marley also educates us on the turmoil of a nation struggling to live together through different political ideology.

Through this fantastic documentary, we learn about how this timeless music came to be and why its message continues to be as relevant now as it ever was.


Jimmy Bartolo

Jimmy is Kwaver’s Music Community Evangalist. He juggles between fretboard and keyboard and is the one reaching out to our users whether to improve our app or for a quick jam.


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