Rock and Roll Movies
* Recommended Titles
Includes musicals, concert films, documentaries, biographies and fictional subject matter (where singers and groups appear as musical interludes.)
* The Blues Brothers (1980) John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, John Candy, Cab Calloway, Henry Gibson, Carrie Fisher, Charles Nappier, Jeff Morris, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Kathleen Freeman. The crazy story of Elwood and Jake Blues who get their band back together in order to raise money for their orphanage -- their "mission from God." Entertaining throughout and featuring several cameos including Steven Spielberg, Steve Lawrence, Twiggy, John Lee Hooker and Pee-Wee Herman.
One-Trick Pony (1980) Paul Simon, Blair Brown, Rip Torn, Joan Hackett, Mare Winningham, Allen Garfield, Lou Reed, the B-52s, Harry Shearer, the Lovin' Spoonful, Sam and Dave, Tiny Tim. The story of an aging rock star trying to save his marriage and career is pretty good with excellent supporting cast and score but Simon just doesn't have leading man appeal. Check it out anyway. Musical highlights besides Simon include the Spoonful's Do You Believe in Magic? and S&D singing Soul Man.
The Idolmaker (1980) Ray Sharkey, Tovah Feldsuh, Peter Gallagher, Paul Land, Joe Pantoliano, Maureen McCormick, Olympia Dukakis. Partially true story of producer Bob Marcucci who made stars of 50s teen talents like Frankie Avalon and Fabian. Film has good cast and fine performances but lacks the mood of the times, especially in the music. Too bad.
No Nukes (1980) Jackson Browne, Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Doobie Brothers, Nicolette Larson, Bonnie Raitt, Gil Scott-Heron, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Jesse Colin Young, Tom Petty, Jane Fonda. Highlights of the five 1979 concerts at Madison Square Garden for the benefit of MUSE (Musicians for Safe Energy).
Roadie (1980) Meat Loaf, Kaki Hunter, Art Carney, Gailard Sartain. Performers include Alice Cooper, Blondie, Roy Orbison, Alvin Crow, Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams Jr. and Ramblin' Jack Elliot. Movie revolves around a roadie and a groupie's efforts to meet Cooper. Mostly misses the mark but Meatloaf and the assortment of talent makes it worth checking out on a rainy afternoon.
The Great Rock and Roll Swindle (1980) An outrageous look at the famous punk-rock group The Sex Pistols featuring performances by Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious and other punk bands as well as behind the scenes with their manager Malcolm McLaren. Released after the deaths of Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. For fans of the genre only.
Rude Boy (1980) David Mingay, the Clash, Ray Gange, John Green, Barry Baker, Terry McQuade, Caroline Coon, Jimmy Pursey. British movie of punk roadie for punk-rock band is told in a believable documentary style format. Concert footage of the Clash is excellent but movie is obviously for fans only.
Breaking Glass (1980) Phil Daniels, Hazel O'Connor, Jon Finch, Jonathon Pryce, Peter Hugo Daly, Mark Wingett. British film about the rise to stardom of female rock singer and the problems she encounters along the way suffers from uneven script and below average songs. O'Connor wrote and performs the music.
Can't Stop the Music (1980) The Village People, Valerie Perrine, Bruce Jenner, Steve Guttenberg, Paul Sand, Tammy Grimes, June Havoc, Barbara Rush, Jack Weston, Leigh-Taylor Young. Below average comedy about the beginning of the Village People. Only for hard core disco fans but Perrine looks great. David London and the Ritchie Family also perform. Pass.
The Jazz Singer (1980) Neil Diamond, Laurence Olivier, Lucie Arnaz, Catlin Adams, Franklyn Ajaye, Paul Nicholas, Sully Boyar, Mike Kellin. Third remake of 1927 classic (that starred Al Jolson) has a twist-- Diamond wants to be a rock and roll singer rather than a Jewish Cantor. Diamond (singing America and Love on the Rocks among others) is ok but we'd rather watch Jolson sing Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye. [The original staring Al Jolson was the first all-talkie movie.]
Reggae Sunsplash (1980) Documentary of the 1979 Sunsplash II Festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Performers include Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Third World and Burning Spear. A must for fans of the genre and Marley is the highlight as usual.
Living Legend: The King of Rock and Roll (1980) Earl Owensby, William T. Hicks, Ginger Alden, Jerry Rushing, Greg Carswell, Toby Wallace, Kristina Reynolds. A big rock star goes downhill fast due to the overuse of prescription medication. Forgettable movie save for the inclusion of Ginger Alden (Elvis' real life girlfriend at the time of his death) and the soundtrack by Roy Orbison.
* This is Elvis (1981) Elvis Presley, David Scott, Paul Boensh III, Johnny Harra, Lawrence Koller, Rhonda Lyn, Debbie Edge, Larry Raspberry, Furry Lewis. A combination of documentary footage and real actors playing Elvis throughout his life makes for an interesting viewing experience.
Elvis and the Beauty Queen (1981) Don Johnson, Stephanie Zimbalist, Ann Dusenberry, Rick Lenz, John Crawford, Richard Herd, Ann Wedgeworth, Ruta Lee. TV-movie about the five-year affair Elvis had with actress Linda Thompson.
American Pop (1981) Animated history of 20th century American music covering four generations culminating with rock and punk. Top-notch animation is wasted by so-so script and questionable song choices. The best include Hell Is For Children (Pat Benitar), People Are Strange (Doors), Turn Me Loose (Fabian), Summertime (Big Brother and the Holding Company) and Night Moves (Bob Seger).
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1981) Diane Lane, Ray Winstone, Peter Donat, Laura Dern, David Clennon, Fee Waybill, John Lehne, Cynthia Sikes, Steve Jones, Paul Cook. The Stains are a female rock band two sisters and a cousin. They go on tour with an aging metal band - the Metal Corpses - and a British rock band, the Looters. The Stains then become famous and try to retain the stardom.
Heavy Metal (1981) Voices of John Candy and Harold Ramis. Features the music of Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Grand Funk, Journey, Nazareth and Sammy Hagar. An outer space fantasy from the magazine of the same name.
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Disciple, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, X. Not a bad documentary of the LA punk rock scene but only for fans of the genre. [Many members of the bands are now deceased.]
Beatlemania (1981) Christina Applegate, Ralph Castelli, David Leon, Tom Teely, Mitch Weissman. The musical based on the stage show featuring look-alikes playing Beatle songs in front of a montage of 60s events on screen. It was better in person.
* The Complete Beatles (1982) Excellent documentary on the great British group narrated by Malcolm McDowell. Definitely worth seeing even though '96 effort is by far more "complete." Among the interviewees are George Martin, Billy Preston, Gerry Marsden, Billy J. Kramer, Marianne Faithfull, Tony Sheridan, Bruce Johnston and Lenny Kaye.
* Let's Spend the Night Together (1982) Footage of three separate performances from the Rolling Stones' 1981 US tour is interesting but far from their best effort. All the songs were performed in big stadiums in front of massive crowds. The energy picks up as the movie goes on. This is the tour where Mick Jagger donned the home jersey of each local NFL quarterback in that particular stadium. Filmed at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, NJ (November 5, 6) and the Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ (December 13).
Pink Floyd -- The Wall (1982) Bob Geldof, Christine Hargreaves, James Laurenson, Eleanor David, Bob Hoskins. The film version of the album basically deals with a rock star (known simply as Pink) and his depressing life. The music and animation are outstanding but the negative mood of the movie wears on you. Plus there's very little dialog. Based on the real life band member's experiences. Floyd fans will love it. Roger Waters has a cameo in the wedding scene.
The Secret Policeman's Other Ball (1982) John Cleese, Peter Cook, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Pete Townsend, Sting, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Donovan, Eleanor Bron, Pamela Stephenson, Alexei Sayle. Highlights of two separate Amnesty International fundraising shows from 1979 and 1981 is a combination of comedy skits (some by Monty Python group) and live music. Overall effort is ok but especially worth seeing for the performances of Sting (solo versions of Roxanne and Message in a Bottle) and Townsend (singing rare acoustic versions of Pinball Wizard and Won't Get Fooled Again).
The Weavers: Wasnt That a Time (1982) Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman, Arlo Guthrie, Harold Leventhal, Don McLean, Holly Near, Harry Reasoner, Studs Terkel, Mary Travers. Documentary about the blacklisted folk group and their comeback concert at Carnegie Hall. The blacklisting happened during the McCarthy Era and the reunion happened when Hays was dying. Songs include If I Had a Hammer, The Disappeared, Good Night, Irene and the title tune. Definitely worth seeing.
Human Highway (1982) Neil Young, Russ Tamblyn, Dennis Hopper, Sally Kirkland, Dean Stockwell, Charlotte Stewart, Devo. Young and Tamblyn run a gas station in the middle of nowhere in forgettable movie except for the concert footage of Young and Devo. Directed by Young as Bernard Shakey. [The phrase rust never sleeps came from this movie.]
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982) Peter Donat, Diane Lane, Marin Kanter, Laura Dern. Tells the story of the rise and fall and rise of a female punk band.
Starstruck (1982) Jo Kennedy, Ross O'Donovan, Pat Evison, Margo Lee. Australian movie about a teenage boy's quest to transform his barmaid cousin into a rock singer. Director Gillian Armstrong also did My Brilliant Career. Not bad.
Smithereens (1982) Susan Berman, Brad Rinn, Richard Hell, Roger Jett. Pretty good story of a selfish and greedy woman who hustles her way in the New York club scene. She winds up managing a punk-rock band in Greenwich Village.
* Eddie and the Cruisers (1983) Tom Berenger, Michael Pare, Joe Pantoliano, Matthew Paurence, Helen Schneider, Ellen Barkin. The story of a 50s rock band who mysteriously lose their lead singer, their saxophonist and some valuable tapes -- all in the same movie. Pare is very good as the legendary Eddie Wilson and the original score is excellent but script sags in places. Original music by John Cafferty. Followed by less appealing sequel, Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!
The Royal Albert Hall Concert For Arms (1983) Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Kenny Jones, Ronnie Lane, Jimmy Page, Charlie Watts, Steve Winwood, Bill Wyman. Benefit concert for Lane, the original bassist for the Small Faces, who was struggling with Multiple Sclerosis.
Rock 'n' Roll Hotel (1983) Judd Nelson, Matthew Penn, Rachel Sweet, Dick Shawn, Joe Grifasi, Donna McKechnie. This is more like a feature-length MTV-like music video with made-up bands playing in the deserted Jefferson Hotel. The story is basically about a band called the Third Dimension, and the Weevils, an aging classic rock band trying to disrupt Third Dimension in a battle of the bands contest. [Rarely seen due to money, script and production problems.]
Get Crazy (1983) Malcolm McDowell, Allen Garfield, Daniel Stern, Gail Edwards, Miles Chapin, Ed Begely Jr. Lou Reed, Howard Kaylan, John Densmore, Bobby Sherman, Fabian. A big promoter wants to sabotage the New Year's 1983 concert of small-time promoter with drugs and violence.
Rock & Rule (1983) Animated rock movie with good special effects and excellent score. Music furnished by Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, Cheap Trick, Iggy Pop and Earth, Wind and Fire.
Forever Young (1983) James Aubrey, Nicholas Gecks, Julian Firth, Jason Carter, Alec McCowan, Karen Archer, Liam Holt. British movie about two young singers aspiring to make it as a duo has good music but not much of a plot.
* This is Spinal Tap (1984) Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, June Chadwick. Reiner's parody of a rock documentary is well done but a tad clichιd. The story revolves around the two leaders of an aging British heavy metal band on a last-gasp tour of the US. Some very funny bits and the solid acting make this film worth seeing but not a must-see, as some would lead you to believe.
* Stop Making Sense (1984) David Byrne, Alex Weir, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Bernie Worrell, Chris Frantz, Steven Scales, Lynn Mabry, Ednah Holt. Expertly filmed and edited performance of a Talking Heads concert (over three nights) featuring lead singer David Byrne. Everything works -- the music, the lighting and the special effects.
* That Was Rock (1984) The best of The T.A.M.I Show and The Big T.N.T. Show remixed and released with extra color footage. Hosted by Chuck Berry.
Purple Rain (1984) Prince, Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day, Olga Karlatos, Clarence Williams III, Jerome Benton, Billy Sparks, the Revolution, the Time. Semi-biographical story of young black rocker (known as The Kid) struggling for acceptance and fame. Well written but depressing script. Performances are enhanced by Oscar winning score with makes the film worth a look-see. Followed by less appealing Graffiti Bridge.
Streets of Fire (1984) Michael Pare, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, William Dafoe, Robert Townsend, the Blasters. Bikers kidnap female rock star and her ex-boyfriend spends the rest of the movie getting her back. Not bad but Pare's performance is disappointing coming off Eddie and the Cruisers success. Realistically filmed street scenes with a good rock score by Ry Cooder make this worth seeing but who decided to use 80s musical routines (complete with flashy lights and moon walking) in a movie supposedly set in the 50s? Lane's vocals dubbed by Laurie Sargent.
Yoko Ono Then and Now (1984) Also features performances by John Lennon singing songs from their very good Starting Over album as well as Give Peace a Chance. Not bad.
Rock and Roll -- The Early Days (1984) Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Everly Brothers, Bill Haley and His Comets, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Gale Storm, Joe Turner. Sketchy history of R&R including some rare clips and well worth a look. Gene Vincent, Pat Boone and Ernest Tubb are interviewed as well.
Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984) Paul McCartney, Bryan Brown, Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach, Linda McCartney, Tracey Ullman, Ralph Richardson, George Martin. Lots of musical performances (including five Beatles songs) connected by so-so plot about some missing tapes. Highlights include the Eleanor Rigby and Ballroom Dancing segments as well as renditions of No More Lonely Nights and Here, There, and Everywhere.
Desperate Teenage Lovedolls (1984) Jennifer Schwartz, Hilary Rubens, Janet Housden, Kim Pilkington, Steve McDonald. The rise and fall of an all-girl Hollywood punk rock band. "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls" was an entertaining cult film, but its sequel outdoes it in every department
Top Secret (1984) David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge, Omar Sharif, Peter Cushing. Unusual comedy of an Elvis-like pop star getting involved with Nazis and the French resistance while touring in Germany.
The Secret Policeman's Private Parts (1984) John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, Peter Cook, Terry Gillian, Peter Townshend, Phil Collins, Donovan, Bob Geldof. Kind of a sequel features more Monty Python-type comedy with musical interludes. Not as good as the first one.
Du-beat-e-o (1984) Ray Sharkey, Joan Jett, Derf Scratch, Len Lesser, Nora Gaye. A filmmaker is out to make a punk-rock movie in Los Angeles while continuously hassled by the local mob. Lots of outrageous (and sometimes offensive) energy but film has no direction.
Hard To Hold (1984) Rick Springfield, Janet Eilber, Patti Hansen, Albert Salmi, Bill Mumy. Eock star James Roberts constantly pursued by women finally falls for the one who couldn't care less about him. Designed as a vehicle to promote Springfield but failed in the attempt. Features a few of his better songs though. [Mumy was Will Robinson in TVs Lost in Space.]
* John and Yoko: A Love Story (1985) Mark McGann, Kim Miyori, Kenneth Price, Peter Capaldi, Phillip Walsh, Richard Morant. Mostly covers the relationship between John Lennon and Yoko Ono (1966-1980) but also delves into the Beatles somewhat. Interesting subject matter suffers from average script but you get to hear 31 Beatles recordings. Poor editing drag it down a bit. McGann and Miyori perform their roles well but the casting of the other Beatles leaves something to be desired. Of course, this is John and Yokos story so the producers were probably not very concerned about it. Covers a lot of ground in 2½ hours. [Produced with the cooperation from Yoko Ono and the Lennon estate. The original script was rejected by Ono because it depicted too much drug abuse.]
* The Beach Boys: An American Band (1985) The history of the band culminating with their annual Fourth of July Washington DC concert is pretty good even for non-fans if you ignore the choppy editing. Early performance clips are great as are some of their movie and TV appearances.
* Does Humor Belong in Music? (1985) Frank Zappa. From IMDB: Whether or not you're a fan of Zappa's music, philosophy, or looks, you'll like this live performance of his 1984 band captured live in NYC. The video quality is superb, since Zappa got his hands on some of the first digital video recording equipment available at that time. Performance-wise, this was arguably the best ensemble of artists he'd ever assembled, and both the performance and the music are superb. Really great concert footage from a band that knows how to give it their all. If you've listened to some of Zappa's live recordings before (such as the 'You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore' series), this video allows you to really see the band in action. For Zappa fans, this is a must. For fans of rock concert videos, you can't go wrong here.
* Video From Hell (1985) Frank Zappa. From IMDB: A must see for Zappa fans. It has clips from some of his other movies like 200 Motels and Uncle Meat and it also has some of the material he was working on at the time. Zappa's humor is seen throughout the movie but it is at its best during the Baltimore, Maryland obscenity in music trials. He really makes them look like idiots. But no Zappa is complete without a kick-ass guitar solo. This movie has Zappa and Steve Vai battling it out on stage in an unbelievable performance. The visuals in this movie are great.
Bring on the Night (1985) Sting, Omar Hakim, Darryl Jones, Kenny Kirkland, Branford Marsalis, Dolette McDonald, Janice Pendarvis, Trudie Styler, Miles Copeland. Documentary about the formation of the Police rock group culminating with their first concert performance. Worth seeing even for non-Sting fans.
White Star (1985) Dennis Hopper, David Hess, Terrance Robay, Cathy Haase, Ramona Sweeny. A freaked-out rock manager tries anything (staged riots, assassination) to place a record onto the charts. Hopper is a tad disturbing, as always.
Joey (1985) Neill Barry, James Quinn, Elisa Heinsohn, Linda Thorson, Ellen Hammill, Dan Grimaldi, Frankie Lanz. Explores the relationship between troubled teen and his ex-rock star father. Features cameos by the Limelights, the Silhouettes, the Ad-Libs, the Elegants, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and the surviving members of the Teenagers.
Thunder Alley (1985) Roger Wilson, Jill Schoelen, Scott McGinnis, Cynthia Eilbacher, Clancy Brown, Leif Garrett. The story of a young guitarist who joins the local band Magic and slowly becomes the main attraction. His popularity breaks the harmony of the group that eventually leads to tragedy. We've seen better, we've seen worse.
Shout! The Story of Johnny O'Keefe (1985) Terry Serio. Biography of Australias top Rock-n-roller, a combination of Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. He had five number one records and ten other top ten hits. Shout! was released as a single twice (1959 and 1964). Based on the Stage show Shout.
Hard Rock Zombies (1985) E. J. Curse, Jennifer Coe. From imdb.com: A hard rock band goes to the remote town of Grand Guignol to perform and are met by hicks, rubes, werewolves, murderous dwarves, sex perverts and Hitler. The lead singer somehow falls in love with a local girl. After Nazi sex perverts kill the band, she calls them back from the grave to save her and the town. Not a good movie, as the title says it all.
* Crossroads (1986) Ralph Macchio, Joe Seneca, Jami Gertz, Joe Morton, Robert Judd, Harry Carey, Jr. Uneven story about a about a young musician tracking down a dying bluesman who's character was loosely based on the legendary guitarist Robert Johnson. Seneca does a good job portraying Johnson. Ry Cooder's musical score also saves the film, as does Steve Vais guitar playing. The climax of the film is the 'Duel' between Cooder (doubling for Macchio on guitar) and Vai that makes the movie worth watching.
Sid and Nancy (1986) Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, Drew Schofield, David Hayman, Debby Bishop, Tony London. The true-life relationship between punk rocker Sid Vicious and groupie Nancy Spungeon is told in depressing but fascinating documentary-type fashion.
Absolute Beginners (1986) A musical romp in 1950s Soho London involving a photographer, a promoter and a fashion designer with racial tensions as a subplot (based on the Notting Hill race riots of August, 1958). Has more of an 80s feel to it. Eddie OConnell, Patsy Kensit, David Bowie, James Fox, Ray Davies, Eve Ferret.
Playing For Keeps (1986) Daniel Jordano, Matthew Penn, Leon W. Grant, Mary B. Ward, Marisa Tomei, Jimmy Baio, Harold Gould. High school grad wants to turn a big house into a Rock n' Roll hotel. Then its townspeople against the kids, MTV style.
Lovedolls Superstar (1986) Jennifer Schwartz, Janet Housden, Kim Pilkington, Steve McDonald. Sequel to "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls." Sky Saxon (The Seeds) and Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) have cameos.
* La Bamba (1987) Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales, Rosano De Soto, Elizabeth Pena, Danielle von Zerneck, Joe Pantoliano, Rick Dees, Marshall Crenshaw, Brian Setzer. Exciting story of Ritchie Valens who rose from poverty to rock and roll fame before his premature death. Well casted with strong performances all around including the soundtrack by Los Lobos and Carlos Santana. Crenshaw plays Buddy Holly.
* Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (1987) Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Etta James, Julian Lennon, Linda Ronstadt. Reviews the career of Berry and culminates with a live concert celebrating his sixtieth birthday. Features interviews with several other rockers and a spirited dressing down of Richards in the recording studio.
* Jimi Plays Monterey (1987) The complete set by the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Monterey Pop Festival filmed by D.A. Pennebaker. The songs in order: Can You See Me, Hey Joe, Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary, Killing Floor, Foxy Lady, Like A Rolling Stone, Rock me Baby, Wild Thing.
* It Was Twenty Years Ago Today (1987) Paul McCartney, George Harrison, George Martin, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, Peter Coyote. The Beatles groundbreaking album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released in 1967, is explored in terms of creation, themes and impact. The film also examines the summer of love that same year the counter-culture and the hippies of which this album was the start.
* Light of Day (1987) Michael J. Fox, Gena Rowlands, Joan Jett, Michael McKean, Thomas G. Waites, Cherry Jones, Michael Dolan, Jason Miller, Michael Rooker. Jett and Fox play brother and sister who start a band and encounter nothing but problems -- musical and family -- along the way. Real life rocker Jett is great but script is too downbeat to really hold the viewer. Filmed on location in Cleveland and worth one viewing.
Uncle Meat (1987) Frank Zappa et all. From IMDB: Uncle Meat, who sometimes goes under the guises of Don Preston (his keyboardist) and Biff Debris, is an eccentric character who believes in musical progress and enjoys drinking fuming beakers and transforming into a monster. After seeing footage of him (as Don) transforming in this way while fighting for musical progress, film editor Phyllis Altenhaus meets him in person and falls in love. Later the two meet again at a pool hall under the guises of Biff Debris and Sheba Flieshman and they share a kinky shower scene together where they indulge each other's fetishes of clothes and hamburgers and declare their mutual love. Meanwhile, Uncle Meat and his band are secretly working on a hit single (made up of household items carefully arranged on a cloth), which they hope will change the world for the better by improving everyone's karma. However, no matter what he does, he can't seem to compose a hit and eventually, after he and Sheba have been married for over twelve years, his obsession with composing a single drives her to the brink and Uncle Meat must choose between his music and the woman he loves. [Most all of the film's dialogue is on the album too.].
Candy Mountain (1987) Kevin J. O'Connor, Harris Yulin, Laurie Metcalf, David Johansen, Dr. John, Leon Redbone, Tom Waits, David Margulies, Roberts Blossom, Jayne Eastwood, Rockets Redglare, Wayne Robson. A struggling musician is determined to find the legendary guitar maker Elmore Silk. Not for all tastes due to its off-beat direction and low budget filming but some really like it, mostly for the cameos of John, Redbone and Waits.
Stand by Me: Aids Day Benefit (1987) Elton John, Meat Loaf, Herbie Hancock, Ben E. King, Boy George, John Entwistle, Zak Starkey, Andy Summers. Filmed at Wembly Arena, London.
Scenes From the Goldmine (1987) Catherine Mary Stewart, Cameron Dye, Steve Railsback, Alex Rocco, Jewel Shepard, Mark Michaels, Pamela Springsteen, Timothy B. Schmit, John Ford Coley, Joe Pantoliano, Lee Ving, Lesley-Anne Down. Typical tale of a young girl trying to make it as a New Wave rock and roll singer in Los Angeles. [Pamela Springsteen is the sister of Bruce Springsteen.]
Border Radio (1987) Chris D., John Doe, Dave Alvin. Los Angeles rock band doesnt get paid, rob the club owner and flee to Mexico. Indie B&W film doesnt even try very hard. [Chris D. is the founding member and lead vocalist of punk group The Flesh Eaters, formed in LA in 1977 Doe was the founder and bass player for the 1980s punk rock band X. Alvin was a guitarist and songwriter for the 1980s blues rock band, The Blasters. He also had a solo career as a singer and producer. He won a Grammy in the Best Traditional Folk album category in 2001.]
Hearts of Fire (1987) Fiona Flanigan, Rupert Everett, Bob Dylan, Julian Glover, Richie Havens, Ron Wood. Forgettable story of female rock star's rise to fame. For Bob Dylan fans only. Soundtrack is below average.
Rock and Roll Nightmare (1987) Jon Mikl Thor, Jillian Peri, Frank Dietz, David Lane, Teresa Simpson. The Tritons, a 1980s hair band, relocates to a haunted farmhouse in Canada to rehearse some new songs. What transpires next are a few songs, some sex and cheesy dialog along with a battle with the resident evil.
Shes My Girl (1987) T.K. Carter, David Hallyday, Jennifer Tilly.
* Imagine: John Lennon (1988) Documentary, partially narrated by Lennon from Yoko Ono's personal files, is an intriguing inside look at the famous ex-Beatle. Also features Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Cynthia Lennon, Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon with cameos by David Bowie, cartoonist Al Capp and journalist Gloria Emerson.
Elvis and Me (1988) Dale Midkiff, Susan Walters, Billy Green Bush, John Cypher, Linda Miller, Anne Haney, Marshall Teague. Decent TV-movie adaptation of Priscilla Presley's book of the same name. Midkiff is adequate as Elvis, with singing once again dubbed by Ronnie McDowell. Priscilla served as technical advisor.
Tapeheads (1988) John Cusack, Tim Robbins, Mary Crosby, Katy Boyer, Doug McClure, Connie Stevens, Clu Gulager, Lyle Alzado, Jessica Walter, Susan Tyrell, Don Cornelius, Junior Walker, Sam Moore. Silly movie about a pair of losers who make it big with their own rock video company. Has some funny moments and a few decent production numbers but on the whole falls flat. Cameos by Michael Nesmith (who also produced), Ted Nugent, Martha Quinn, Weird Al Yankovic and the Lords of the New Church.
The In Crowd (1988) Donovan Leitch Jr., Joe Pantoliano, Jennifer Runyon, Bruce Kirby, Scott Plank, Wendy Gazelle. High school senior year Dell becomes a star on a popular Philadelphia teen dance TV show and meets his dream girl. Now he has to deal with his fans, rivals and old friends, especially his old girlfriend. Only partially captures the feel of the 60s. Excellent soundtrack. [The Perry Parker character was based on Disc Jockey Jerry Blavat, who sued to keep the movie from being released, finally settling out of court. Peter Boyle's character "Uncle Pete" is based on a real children's show host Uncle Pete Boyle; Peter Boyle's father.]
The Return of Bruno (1988) Bruce Willis, Michael J. Fox, Elton John, Bill Graham, Dick Clark, Joan Baez, Jon Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, Clive Davis, Wolfman Jack, Chip Monck, Graham Nash, Grace Slick, Paul Stanley, Stephen Stills. Willis plays Bruno Radolini, an unknown pioneer in rock history. Most of the movie consists of 'interviews' with people in the business and 'archival footage' of Bruno. The "documentary" ends in a real concert featuring Willis backed by a really good blues band.
Hairspray (1988) Sonny Bono, Ruth Brown, Divine, Debbie Harry, Ricki Lake, Jerry Stiller, Pia Zadora, Ric Ocasek, John Waters. Better-than-expected story of a 1962 teen dance show in Baltimore, a kind of an off-the-wall American Bandstand. Tracy Turnblad becomes a star on the Corky Collins Dance Show and then starts speaking out against integration. Waters (Pink Flamingoes, Polyester, Cry-Baby) also directed. Toussaint McCall sings his 1967 hit, "Nothing Takes the Place of You."
Heartbreak Hotel (1988) David Keith, Tuesday Weld, Charlie Schlatter, Angela Goethals, Jacque Lynn Colton, Chris Mulkey. Original story has Ohio teenager kidnapping Elvis as a gift for his divorced mother. Well-casted and worth viewing if you like this kind of a fantasy but dont expect a great film. Elvis fans may not like certain aspects of the filmmakers interpretation of the Kings anger.
The Decline of Western Civilization Part II (1988) Aerosmith, Kiss, Megadeth, Ozzie Osborne, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Lemmy. Pretty good look at the Heavy Metal rock scene but features more interviews than music. Also features Poison, Lizzy Borden, Faster Pussycat, Seduce, Odin, London.
Satisfaction (1988) Justine Bateman, Liam Neeson, Britta Phillips, Julia Roberts, Scott Coffey, Trini Alvarado. Uneven story of all-girl rock band (plus one guy) who spend the summer as a beach resort's house band. The girls have lots of energy but the script is lackadaisical. Neeson is miscast as the veteran rocker who tutors and seduces Bateman. Steve Cropper and Debbie Harry have cameos. Also known as Girls of Summer.
Tokyo Pop (1988) Carrie Hamilton, Yutaka Tadokoro. Punk rocker travels to Japan in search of fame. Hamilton is good but overall results are disappointing. [Hamilton is the daughter of Carol Burnet.]
Purple People Eater (1988) Ned Beatty, Shelly Winters, Beil Harris, Peggy Lipton, Chubby Checker, Little Richard. The story of an outer space monster trying to form a rock band on earth reminds us of low budget 50s flicks. It's based on the popular 1958 novelty song of the same name by Sheb Wooley who also has a cameo as a trapeze teacher.
* Great Balls of Fire! (1989) Dennis Quaid, Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, Lisa Blount, Trey Wilson, John Doe, Steve Allen. Energetic story of Jerry Lee Lewis, the rocker whose career took a tumble when he married his 13-year-old cousin. Quaid plays the piano but Lewis dubbed his own voice in realistic concert scenes.
Mystery Train (1989) Masatoshi Nagase, Youki Kudoh, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Cinque Lee, Nicoletta Braschi, Elizabeth Bracco, Joe Strummer, Rick Aviles, Steve Buscemi, Tom Noonan, Rockets Redglare, Rufus Thomas, voice of Tom Waits. Three stories depict different (Japanese, Italian, British) Elvis fans stay in a sleazy Memphis motel revealing how the king affected their lives. Worth seeing once.
Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! (1989) Michael Parι, Marina Orsini, Bernie Coulson, Matthew Laurance, Michael Rhoades, Anthony Sherwood. Eddie is not dead, but now goes by Joe West, a construction worker in Montreal. He starts a new band of course but, like the first movie, is not as good as the original. For the first time though, emotional weaknesses surface in the Eddie character. Bo Diddley, Larry King and Martha Quinn have cameos.
Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989) Foreign comedy about a rock band (a real-life Finnish rock band) so bad, they're forced to seek fame on tour with their Russian manager in the United States. Different and sometimes dreary but well done and worth a look.
Other Concert Movies
AC/DC: Let There Be Rock (1980) Documentary of the bands '78 'Highway To Hell' tour in Belgium and Paris with interviews. One of the final appearances of now deceased lead singer Bon Scott. The movie itself is dedicated to him.
Divine Madness (1980) Bette Midler and the Harlettes performing at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Definitely worth viewing.
Heartland Reggae (1980) Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, U-Roy, Natty Garfield, Jacob Miller, Ras Lee Morris, Judy Mowatt, Lloyd Parkes, Junior Tucker. Documentary of the 1978 One Love Peace Concert held in Kingston, Jamaica. It also celebrated the return of Marley following an attempt on his life the year before.
The Concert for Kampuchea (1981) Benefit concert for the African country. Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Chrissie Hynde, Denny Laine, Linda McCartney, Ian Dury, Billy Connolly, Laurence Juber.
Manhattan Transfer (1981) For Transfer fans only.
Eric Clapton and his Rolling Hotel (1981) Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, George Harrison, Elton John. Fair coverage of Clapton's 1979 European tour.
DOA -- A Right of Passage (1982) the Sex Pistols, Generation X, Rich Kids, Terry and the Idiots, X-Ray Spex. For punk rock fans only.
Brothers of the Road (1982) The Allman Brothers Band after Duane Allman and Barry Oakley's deaths.
Earth, Wind and Fire in Concert (1982) For EW&F fans.
A Night With Lou Reed (1983) Energetic concert taped at New York City's Bottom Line Club. Catch it if you can.
Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars (1983) David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, Mick Woodmansy, Angela Bowie. The July 3rd, 1973 concert was Bowie's last as the Ziggy character. Directed by D.A. Pennebaker.
The Guess Who Together Again (1983) Very good reunion concert.
Blues Alive (1983) John Mayall, John McVie, Mick Taylor, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Etta James, Albert King, Colin Allen, Sippie Wallace. Reunion concert of the original John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.
Rock and Soul Live (1983) Daryl Hall and John Oates.
David Bowie Live (1984) Taken from the Serious Moonlight Tour is probably the best Bowie film. He is interviewed in his dressing room as an added treat for fans. Followed by David Bowie -- Serious Moonlight.
The Berserker Tour (1984) For Gary Newman fans only.
Shake (1987) The exciting set by Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop Festival filmed by D.A. Pennebaker.
Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night (1987) B&W movie shot and recorded so well that you truly feel you are there. Bruce Springsteen, James Burton, Jackson Browne, JD Souther, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Jenifer Warnes and others the legendary singer.
Moonwalker (1988) Michael Jackson, Sean Lennon, Kellie Parker, Joe Pesci, Brandon Quintin Adams, Dante Basco. Film clips of Michael Jackson's career on and off the stage with some performances and music videos thrown in.
Big Time (1988) Tom Waits in concert and on the road interspersed with several performing vignettes.
U2: Rattle and Hum (1988) Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr., B.B. King, Phil Joanou. Follows the band through their 1987-88 Joshua Tree tour in North America. A must for fans and worth seeing once for others.
Crickets: My Love Is Bigger Than a Cadillac (1989) Jerry Allison, Joe B. Mauldin, Gordon Payne, Paul McCartney, Bobby Vee.