It's that time of year when life slows down a little bit and you get to enjoy some more leisure time at home. There's no better way to relax than laying back on the couch and catching up on some music documentaries that you might have missed. 2016 was another banner year for music docs and we've put together a list of some of our favorites for you to check out over the holidays. Enjoy your time off, you deserve it!
If you've never been enchanted by the sounds of The Staples Singers than you've missed out on a whole lot of beauty. Mavis! chronicles the story of Mavis Staples (a singer in the Chicago-based family group), from her childhood and the turbulent Civil Rights Movement through her current recording sessions with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. This insightful documentary shows how music can make an impact in the worst of times and truly bring a group of people together unlike any other medium.
Late in 2016, PBS debuted their new series, Soundbreaking, which takes an in-depth look at how some of the greatest songs in pop and rock history were recorded. From Glyn Johns detailing the use of the synthesizer by Pete Townshend on "Baba O'Reilly" to the creative genius of Brian Wilson during the sessions for Pet Sounds, this is a must watch for anyone who has ever put their blood, sweat and tears into the recording studio.
Eat That Question
They don't make them like Frank Zappa anymore and Eat That Question is a defining testament to him as a musician and thinker. Brilliantly edited, the film uses Zappa's words from interviews throughout his entire career to create a unique collage that brings together his views on a wide range of topics. There are few popular artists who are as decisive as Frank and this film will definitely make you choose one way or another.
A Poem Is A Naked Person
Created by master documentarian Les Blank, A Poem Is A Naked Person shines a light on the trippy and eccentric world of Leon Russell. Originally made in the early 1970s, but only released upon Blank's death, this film is a blend of behind the scenes studio and live footage, along with some more surreal scenes of people involved in Leon's life. In light of Leon's recent passing, the film is a must-watch for those unfamiliar with one of the most incredible studio musicians and songwriter to ever have existed in this space and time.
The Art of Organized Noize
Their lists of credits reads like a who's who of mid-nineties/early aughts hip-hop all-stars. During this fruitful period, the production collective known as Organized Sound created masterpieces for TLC, En Vogue, Ludacris, Goodie Mob and Outkast, all from the Atlanta-based basement known as the "Dungeon." Watch this film to get an inside look at their rise to prominence and learn more about their work in the studio including their insistence on rarely using samples.