With the second lockdown in full effect - the days getting colder and the evenings getting darker - there’s now more chances than ever to get caught up on those music documentaries that’ve been on your list (and ours) for who knows how long. We strongly recommend enjoying some of these with an ice cold glass of Roadie, so order some in, stick one on and broaden your musical horizons. Might come in handy for the incoming zoom quizzes.
Beastie Boys Story (2020)
Recently released on Apple’s own streaming platform service Apple TV, Beastie Boys Story is directed by longtime friend and collaborator of the band Spike Jonze, and chronicles the 40 years in which Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock have been together. Good news is, if you’re an owner of an iPhone, you’ve likely got a free subscription to Apple TV already, so no extra fees necessary.
Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck (2015)
Directed by Brett Morgan, Montage Of Heck delivers a visual and audible experience like no other, making it almost essential viewing material for Nirvana fans. Combining Kurt’s journal entries, animated doodles and home recordings, this documentary chronicles the life of Cobain from birth to his untimely death in 1994. Even if you like and appreciate them already, this one will make you love Nirvana’s albums even more.
Aretha Franklin: Amazing Grace (2019)
Originally shot in 1972, and lost in the vaults due to issues with synchronising the audio, Amazing Grace was recently brought back to life in 2019 by the magic of modern restoration technology. Cut from almost 20 hours of 16mm footage, this live documentary makes for a really marvellous experience, giving you a HD look into the past. There’s not much ‘documentary’ in this one as it’s more a recording of Franklin’s live album, but it’s a breathtaking hour and a half all the same.
The Beatles: Eight Days A Week (2016)
In a similar vein to Amazing Grace, Ron Howard does an excellent job of detailing the touring years of The Beatles between 1962 and ‘66. The film was also produced with the cooperation of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, in addition to having remastered sound by Giles Martin, the son of Beatles producer George Martin. Again, this one has crystal-clear footage and audio of The Beatles during a really specific period of their career, providing a nice and concise experience whether you’re a massive fan or not.
Made by the creators of the critically acclaimed documentary Senna (2010) - and winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary film in 2015, among others - Amy offers a portrait of the life of Amy Winehouse, from her birth until her untimely death at the age of 27. Using various pieces of extensive, unseen archive footage, this one gives another behind the scenes look at one of the greatest voices of all time.
Hip-Hop Evolution (2016)
Another series worthy of a big weekend binge, Hip-Hop Evolution features in-depth interviews with the pioneers of DJing, rapping and hip-hop production, giving you a blow-by-blow timeline of how the genre came to be. Literally everyone is featured on this show, including Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane, Ice Cube, Grandmaster Flash, Chuck D, LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, the list could go on forever.
The Defiant Ones (2017)
If Hip-Hop Evolution doesn’t quite scratch your itch, then definitely check out The Defiant Ones too - a shorter, 4-part series which focuses on the careers and partnership between Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, the co-founders of Beats electronics. With cameos from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Bono, Trent Reznor, Snoop Dogg, Will.i.am and more, The Defiant Ones interviews such a broad stroke of celebrities alongside Dre and Iovine as they detail transformative events in music and culture during their careers.
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (Classic Albums) (1997)
Released in 1997, this Classic Albums documentary gives you a deeper insight into the makings of one of the most iconic records ever, starring the whole of Fleetwood Mac as they recount their toxic experiences with each other recording Rumours back in the 70s
Supersonic: Oasis (2016)
Another quintessential addition to the list, Supersonic details the history of one of the leaders of the Britpop genre, Oasis. Featuring off-screen interviews with members of the band and people associated with them, set to archive videos of concerts, contemporaneous interviews and backstage footage.
Architects: Holy Ghost (2018)
Prior to the release of their eighth studio album, ‘Holy Hell’, Architects also released a documentary giving an insight into the making of the record. The documentary makes for incredibly emotive viewing as it follows the passing of Tom Searle, which the band are all given time to reflect upon. It’s available to watch on YouTube and makes for deeply inspiring viewing, so if you’re a fan of the band this one isn’t to be missed.
Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster (2004)
Possibly one of the craziest metal documentaries ever made chronicling Metallica at the highest-profiled period of their career, Some Kind Of Monster sees the band recording St. Anger, going through group therapy, essentially splitting up on camera and members having to leave to go to rehab. There’s just so much going on behind the scenes in this documentary which gives you an insight into the trials and tribulations of being a monolithic metal band, making it even more insane the band is still going strong today.
David Bowie: Five Years (First and Last)
Admittedly there’s a plethora of Bowie documentaries out there that you could dedicate an entire weekend to, but similar to Eight Days A Week, these films provide a more concise insight into the first and last five years of Bowie’s career, along with plenty of unseen archival footage and audio of the legend at work. Once you’ve tackled these, we also recommend checking out Five Years, which outlines Bowie’s career in the late 70s and early 80s - a period in which some believe to be his best as it gave us “Heroes”, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), Let’s Dance, and more.
Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (2014)
Featuring the nicest dudes in rock and roll, Sonic Highways is an eight-part series which follows the creation of Foo Fighters’ eighth album of the same name - in which they recorded each track in a different city whilst borrowing the genres and aesthetics of the respective city’s musical history. Described by Dave Grohl himself as a “love letter to the history of American music”, this show sees the likes of Ian MacKaye of Fugazi, Paul Stanley of Kiss, Duff McKagen of Guns n’ Roses and many more join the spotlight making it quite the star-studded cast through and through.
Bros: After The Screaming Stops (2018)
Maybe the biggest unintentional meme of 2018, Bros: After The Screaming Stops charts Matt and Luke Goss’s reunion 28 years since they were one of the biggest bands in the world, and one of the youngest bands to ever play Wembley arena. In a doc that has been described as both terrifying and funny, Matt and Luke reflect upon their short-lived success and unpack the aftermath of being thrusted so quickly into the limelight.
The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone (2013)
Directed by longtime fan and friend Shane Meadows (This Is England, Dead Man’s Shoes), Made Of Stone follows the band reforming in 2012 after their 16-year long split, which culminates in a European tour and triumphant homecoming shows at Manchester’s Heaton Park. This makes quite a nice companion piece to Supersonic, if you fancied a bit of a double-bill.
Lil Peep: Everybody’s Everything (2019)
Chronicling the life and career of Gustav Elijah Åhr (AKA Lil’ Peep), Everybody’s Everything has been labelled “the defining documentary of the SoundCloud generation” by Vice and “heartbreakingly poetic” by Variety. It makes for a really moving film, but if you’re a fan of the SoundCloud scene, this one’s definitely for you. And even if you’re not, it’s incredibly interesting and offers an insight into one of the biggest scenes to come out of the internet.
Daft Punk: Unchained (2015)
Despite their persistence of anonymity, this Daft Punk documentary is a really interesting insight into the rapid rise to fame of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, the two most influential DJs of the 90s and 00s. Without using any new footage of the duo, this doc interviews the likes of Skrillex, Pharrell Williams, Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rogers, Kanye West, and more - so super star-studded stuff.
And there you have it - plenty to keep you busy throughout Lockdown 2.0. But don't forget, these are enjoyed best with an ice cold can of Roadie, so order some in here, and become a music trivia icon amongst your mates.