Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weekend Listomania (Special Alleged in Their Own Time Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental spring roll-in-the-hay Fah Lo Suee and I are...well, I don't actually have a joke ready, but after three weeks in DivShare Hell, the List is indeed back. Tanned, rested and ready, as was said of Richard Nixon or somebody.

That being the case, and given that it's going to be a little uneventful around here for the next day or two, let's get right to the traditional little project for us to wile away the idle hours that might otherwise be spent in neurotic self-contemplation:

Best or Worst Documentary on a Pop/Rock Artist or Group Who Is/Are Not Necessarily a Household Word!!!

No arbitrary rules, but as a bonus additional theme: As Yet Unmade Documentary You'd Most Like To See About a Pop/Rock Artist or Group Who Is/Are Not Necessarily a Household Word !!!

And my totally top of my head Top Five is:

5. The Doughboys -- Rock N' Raw Live

Formed in the immediate aftermath of the British Invasion, The Doughboys, featuring drummer and future powerpop god Richard X. Heyman (his 2006 Actual Sighs album is a bona fide heartbreaking work of staggering genius) were Plainfield, New Jersey teenagers who eventually recorded "Everybody Knows My Name," one of the cooler regional hit singles of the era. (Here's the b-side, "Rhoda Mendelbaum," which just might be my favorite 60s song title ever). [Correction:"Rhoda Mendelbaum" was the A-side of their first single, and "Everybody Knows My Name" the A-side of their second single, both on Bell Records. The B-sides, respectively, were "You're A Pip, Mr. Hip" and "Candy Candy". I regret the error. -- Ed.]

They went their separate ways soon after, but in the last couple of years they've been recording new music, playing clubs all over the place, and generally making some of the most intelligent and convincing garage-rock noises on the planet.

This new film, on a DVD which includes a complete recent live show (with an accompanying CD) and a lot of evocative period footage -- is a vastly entertaining look at their rise and fall and rise again. Great music, and positively inspirational on a lot of levels; you can view a clip from it and order it over at the band's website here. I'd do it now, if I were you.

4. The Monks -- The Transatlantic Feedback

Five American G.I.s, stationed in Germany at the height of the Cold War, shave their heads and invent Blank Generation punk rock ten years ahead of schedule. Still the weirdest saga in all of rock, and the film is pretty much the last word on it.

3. Scott Walker -- 30 Century Man

That's Scott Walker as in The Walker Brothers, as in the transplendently gorgeous 60s hit "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore." And a career since then that has defied easy characterization on any level. As I said in my review in 2009, this is one of the most remarkable music documentaries in ages, and certainly the absolute best ever made about a guy who went into a studio to record the sound of a man punching a side of pork.

2. The Remains -- America's Lost Band

Boston's finest -- they stole the show on the 1966 Beatles tour, by all accounts -- but they never really broke through, despite stellar turns on the Sullivan show and Hullabaloo. This 2008 documentary, narrated by long time fan Peter Wolf, does them full justice

And the Numero Uno if-you're-so-great-why-don't-I-know-your-name flick of them all simply has to be....

1. Dean Reed -- American Rebel

The short version: Reed was an American folk singer, groomed to be a teen idol in the late 50s, who wound up moving to Communist East Germany and finishing his career as a sort of Hero of the People's Republic before dying under mysterious circumstances in 1986. The guy was charismatic enough, although his music kind of sucked, but it's an interesting story to say the least, and the film gets to the You Can't Make This Shit Up strangeness of it quite effectively.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?