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Top 10 Documentaries for Music Lovers

Ideal for gifts or personal collections


These superb music documentaries on DVD will bring you closer to the music and musicians you love. After watching them, you'll listen to music--be it classical or rock--differently, more wisely, with better informed ears. At the same time, an appealing playfulness in their approach makes them entertaining as well as enlightening.

1. Don't Look Back--65 Revisited

Pennebaker Hegedus
D.A. Pennebaker has released a new and updated version of Don't Look Back, his compelling portrait of Bob Dylan during the time when the legendary musician was transitioning from acoustic to electric guitar. The updated version contains new and never-before-seen footage.

2. Air Guitar Nation

Shadow Distribution
Play along as top air guitarists with names like Bjorn Turoque, C Diddy and The Torbinator travel to Oolu, Finland to compete to be world champion of playing imaginary guitars. It's a wonderfully silly and captivating romp into the world of would-be musicians.

3. Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who

Spitfire Pictures
In this 2007 release, documentary directors Paul Crowder and Murray Lerner show the entire history of The Who, setting the band into its social, political and musical context, and presenting superb background information on each of the musicians, how they got to know each other, how they came together to form the band and a comprehensive overview of all the ups and downs of their collaboration. Clips from concerts and lots of new interviews with band members Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry and others in their circle keep it a lively and altogether compelling journey through rock history and into the specific story of a truly great and revolutionary rock band.
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4. Buena Vista Social Club

Road Movies Filmproduktion
Thank musician Ry Cooder and filmmaker Wim Wenders for this engaging introduction to this group of wonderful elderly Cuban musicians whose talents had been ignored and all but forgotten during the Castro years. Their story is powerful and their music will have you out of your seats and dancing.
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5. In Search of Mozart

Using top musicians and music historians as guides, director Phil Grabsky takes us on a journey through Mozart's world and music that gives us greater understanding of the prodigy's playful genius. A must for lovers of classical music, this documentary will lead you to listen with more finely tuned ears.

6. Madonna: Truth or Dare

Boy Toy Productions
Madonna at her most controversial. Truth or Dare provides an intimate view of the rock star's life on her Blond Ambition concert tour in 1990. The film is provocative and stylish. Performances are filmed in vivid color, but off-stage footage--showing Madonna with her crew before and after the shows, threatened with arrest for public indecency and at her father's birthday party--are presented in black and white. This is a classic and fascinating doc.
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7. Runnin' Down A Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Sundance Channel
Head Heartbreaker Tom Petty is charming and candid in discussing life, love and the pursuit of music in Peter Bogdanovich's comprehensive documentary, which covers some 30 years of rock history, including memorable concert clips and interviews with Petty cohorts past and present.

8. Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Artisan Entertainment
Chaka Khan is among the famous artists who salute the Funk Brothers, a famous-among-insiders band of musicians who backed up many Motown stars. In Paul Justman's documentary, their soul comes across loud and clear. A great film!
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9. The Dixie Chicks: Shut Up And Sing

Cabin Creek Films
When The Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines commented against the Iraq War while performing in London, American fans turned against the group, demanding that stations ban their music. This Barbara Kopple-directed documentary chronicles the group's campaign to regain their popularity, offering terrific music along with intimate glimpses into the lives of The Dixie Chicks and a provocative overview of their strategy about marketing their music.

10. The McCartney Years

This three-disc set is full of rare footage, live performance and music videos--with Paul's newly recorded commentary for 40-plus music videos, which you can view in chronological order or according to McCartney's own playlists. Discs One and Two feature music videos spanning from "Maybe I'm Amazed" (1970) to "Fine Line" (2005), with extras including a doc about the making of the Chaos and Creation in the Backyard album in 2005, and a Band on the Run promotional film. Disc Three has a new edit of McCartney's 1991 MTV Unplugged appearance, plus 11 songs from his appearance at the 2004 Glastonbury Festival--both with new McCartney commentary.
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