The Rockingest Of All Documentaries To Check Out

For those of us who have covered all the bingeworthy shows and new Netflix originals, maybe it’s time we switch gears and get closer to something real: live music. Over the course of the last 40 years, some of the most rocking rockumentaries have come out, and it’s your duty as a civilian of planet Earth to check them out, starting with the first one, which comes out this October.

“Oasis: Supersonic” (2016)

Set for an October North American release, this is the all encapsulating back story (from the folks that brought you “Amy”) to the early days of Britain’s biggest rock band of the ‘90s. Learn about the coming together of the arrogant Gallagher brothers with a group of middle-class musicians who redefined Brit rock more than two decades ago with nothing but some good old fashioned booze, drugs and rock ’n roll. The film is being shown in America in select cities for one day only but is definitely maybe worth the effort.

“Joy Division” (2007)

The Grant Gee-directed film, considered one of the great rock documentaries, follows a group of Manchester men, who met at a Sex Pistols show, from forming Joy Division to rising to great heights in the late ‘70s. Nearly 30 years later, we follow the legacy of Britain’s iconic post-punk band with interviews from close acquaintances, covering the early days to the peaks, leading up to the collapse after the death of Ian Curtis.

“Gimme Shelter” (1970)

Easily one of the best-recorded rock shows in history, “Gimme Shelter” is a live recording of the Rolling Stones during their epic early days at a free show in San Francisco. The three-hundred thousand-plus crowd of the 1969 show was a fantastic gathering of the free love movement, crashed by the Hell Angels, caught on tape for your viewing pleasure.

“Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” (2015)

See Kurt Cobain like you’ve never seen him. In fact, see a documentary unlike any you’ve ever seen, one that keeps you on your toes the whole way through, detailing the dark and tragic life of one of music’s greatest blips. The Sundance smash starts from the top and works its way down to the gritty bottom of Cobain’s existence, his rise and fall and plenty of spectacularly innovative clips in between.

“This Is Spinal Tap” (1984)

Of all the greatest directorial debuts, Rob Reiner’s rockumentary mockumentary was the first of its kind. Along with Michael McKean, Reiner delivers a hilarious take on super rock stardom of the failing Brit metal band in the ‘80s. Scored, written and directed by Reiner, “Spinal Tap” is the must-see rockumentary for any ‘80s child.

“Don’t Look Back” (1967)

Released nearly 50 years ago, D.A. Pennebaker’s “Don’t Look Band” follows the iconic Bob Dylan at the age of 23 through the private life of the blossoming artist in the golden age of music. Set in 1965 when The Beatles and other greats were in their stride, “Don’t Look Back” gives us the tell-all life of a young man on the rise, detailed hotel talks along with live appearances.

“The Decline of Western Civilization” (1981)

Calling all punkers. One of the top-rated rockumentaries belongs to the phenomenal directing of Penelope Spheeris, detailing the late 1970s Los Angeles punk rock scene. From bands like the Circle Jerks and Black Flag, “The Decline of Western Civilization” follows the oral history of an amplified California punk lifestyle, along with two additional parts, which cover metal in the ‘80s and “gutter punk” teens in the ‘90s.

“The Kids Are Alright” (1979)

The Who? No, The Who! Everything you want to know about one of Britain’s barely surviving legends is well documented from 1964 to 1978 in this 1979 masterpiece, directed by Jeff Stein. Comprised of live performances, interviews and short films, we get a look at the band talking about their generation back when music was pure, vocal and unabashed.

“Sound City” (2013)

One of the most famous recording studios in the world, located in Los Angeles, closes its doors, but not without giving an all-encompassing recap of some of the greatest artists to visit and albums to be recorded. Focusing on its impact before and during the age of autotune, Sound City was put here to make great music, and now we say goodbye. Directed by Dave Grohl, including a laundry list of great interviews, the documentary won a Grammy for its greatness.

“The Last Waltz” (1978)

Parting is such sweet sorrow, unless of course you’re getting some of the greatest musicians together in the same room, rocking your socks to some of the best live songs in music and having Martin Scorsese film it. Set in San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom in 1976, the two-hour show includes Robbie Robertson’s The Band and guests including Neil Young, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and more.