Saturday, October 17, 2009

Musical Interlude/ Movie Review Time!

Matt and I went to a fascinating documentary last night, called It Might Get Loud. It was about The Edge (of U2), Jimmy Page (of The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, among others) and Jack White (of the White Stripes and the Raconteurs). It was a combination of them talking to eachother about music, interviews with each of them about their influences and them sitting in a room talking music and jamming. It was SO well done.

It was an odd format, because it would switch back and forth between the three of them, and they had interviews with Jimmy Page and the Edge in their old recording studios where they had recorded iconic albums and in their current abodes talking about their influences and (especially in the case of Jimmy Page) past musical experiences. In Jimmy Page's this was particularly interesting as he started out pre-rock and roll and learned to play in a skiffle band and spent so long as a studio musician playing written-out music (he's the guitarist on Goldfinger, among other totally random things). He talks about the point where he was sitting in a session and realized he was playing muzak, and he just had to leave. He then goes into how much time he spent trying to innovate and do different things with the guitar just to get away from the rigid structure of his past studio gigs (playing guitar with a violin bow, for example). It was a little sad actually, they show a clip from Spinal Tap which came out a couple of years after Bonham's death and the breakup of the band, and you realize that it wasn't that over-the-top, and he just looks so sad about that. Although he does explain the double-necked guitar, too. The top half was a twelve-string and the bottom was a regular electric because it was the only way he could play all of Stairway to Heaven live in concert without switching instruments - he played all the solos on the regular side and everything else was on the twelve-string.

The Edge was actually really interesting as well, it goes a lot more into his influences from the political climate in Dublin when they were starting out and how that influenced his writing music. Songs like Sunday Bloody Sunday for example - I for one forget how much singing and songwriting he does for that band. It was also fascinating to watch him talk about his gear, how much time he spends getting just the right sound and effects for each song and each lick - he sits down at one point and plays a catchy lick on an unplugged electric guitar and then he plugs in and it turns into this huge memorable song and it is so interesting to watch.

Jack White was kind of the "which of these things is not like the other" factor. I know he was kind of the contrivance to get the other two together in the first place but it just felt a little forced when they would have old footage of the others and them talking about their experience and they've both got 20-30 more years of stories to tell than he does. I know it's kind of to get the younger crowd in and it is interesting to hear him talk about his influences as well but he just seems kind of out of his league, especially in the jam sessions. That was kind of my other little peeve - they hardly showed them jamming at all! The preview kind of implies that the whole thing is about the jam and it is really a minor component. Although it was pretty cute watching him just look on in awe when Jimmy Page is showing them how to play Heartbreaker.

Overall, I highly recommend it if you like rock music (or are married to a guitarist). I've got some residual interest as a non-guitarist who lives with a serious guitarist but also as a moderate U2 fan and a huge fan of both Zep and the Raconteurs. And I thought it was very interesting and extremely well done. So there ya go.


Spender said...

THANK you for the review. I had been a bit stand-offish about this because I assumed it would be primarily about Jack White... which would be okay but not what I would have wanted to see.
I'm glad that the Edge and Page get plenty of screen time.
I'll see it, based on this summary.
Again, thanks.

Anne (in Reno) said...

Do it, Spender! They split it up very evenly and Jack White is worth sitting through just because the interviews with Page and the Edge are so interesting! Hope you enjoy!