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Adelphoi Recommends: Essential Music Documentaries

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Staff at Adelphoi dig into the archives to list their top ten music documentaries to enjoy

Adelphoi Recommends: Essential Music Documentaries

There’s nothing like live gigs as a means of feeling closer to the musicians we love and, as we roll deeper into the season of central heating and Saturdays spent on the sofa (as if we have a choice..) you might, like us, be missing them a lot.

Adelphoi Music are at hand to fill the void with a selection of 10 of its favourite music documentaries which you can stream straight to your living room, without even having to venture out into the cold!

As we make our way out of the second lockdown and enter into the Christmas home stretch, undoubtedly many of you will have binge watched most of The Crown and been tempted by another year of Home Alone 1 and 2 back to back.

Instead, take a step into the lives of some iconic musicians or explore the scenes that have changed the face of popular culture. While we won’t see our idols in the flesh for some time, now we can bring them into our homes (without breaking social distancing!).


QUINCY – A Life Beyond Measure - NETFLIX

Directed by Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks

An insight into the highs and lows of Quincy Jones incredible music career. The documentary, available on Netflix, fuses observational moments with unseen archival footage, exploring Quincy’s 60 year walk of life in the music business.

The Summer of Rave 1989 - YOUTUBE

Directed by Anna Davies

A BBC documentary which explores rave culture in the UK towards the end of the 1980’s. The 1980’s was a turbulent decade for many, but by 1989, the youth were ready for change. Along with the change in mood came a change in music; acid house, illegal raves and MDMA sparked a youth culture revolution resulting in mass free parties and the era of the rave. 



Searching for Sugar Man - AMAZON PRIME

Directed by Malik Bendjelloul

The Oscar-winning documentary, ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ tells the story of two men, Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom as they search for information which may lead them to find and meet their musical hero, the mysterious 1970’s singer-songwriter, Rodriguez. 


Joan Armatrading: Me Myself I - YOUTUBE

Directed by Poppy Edwards

A BBC Four access all areas documentary where Joan Armatrading takes us through her life and musical career, including previously unseen footage and interviews with her close musical collaborators Glyn Johns and Steve Lillywhite. 



Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Magic - NETFLIX

Directed by Jim Gable & Barbra Streisand

This documentary / concert film takes viewers on a journey of Barbra Streisand’s exceptional musical career. Listeners can be delighted by her renditions of songs from stage and screen including, ‘Papa, can you hear me?’ and ‘Losing My Mind’ as well as her commercial successes ‘Woman in Love’ and ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’. 



Buena Vista Social Club - AMAZON PRIME

Directed by Wim Wenders

Critically acclaimed, ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ is a 1999 music documentary, directed by Wim Wenders, which explores the music of Cuba. With the help of guitarist Ry Cooder, aging Cuban musicians are brought together for a series of recording sessions and sell-out concerts in America and Amsterdam. 



Kill Your Idols  - YOUTUBE

Directed by Scott Crary

Award-winning documentary film, ‘Kill Your Idols’ explores three decades of punk and more specifically ‘art punk’ in New York City. The film was created with a unique style whereby there is little narration, instead there are abstract title cards and soundbites used to carve out the narrative. 


Joni Mitchell – Woman of Heart and Mind - YOUTUBE

Directed by Susan Lacy

The life story of Canadian singer-songwriter and poet, Joni Mitchell. The documentary explores her musical evolution from folk into pop and jazz. It also features interviews with some of her collaborators including Neil Young and Bob Dylan. 



Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation - YOUTUBE

Directed by Barak Goodman

A BBC Four documentary which features live footage from the 1969 Woodstock Festival, where 500,000 people gathered on a farm in upstate New York against a backdrop of conflict and turbulence across the United States. 



Sinatra: All or Nothing at All - NETFLIX

Directed by Alex Gibney

This two-parter documentary can be viewed on Netflix and is framed around Frank Sinatra’s ‘farewell concert’ in LA in 1971. The film takes us through Sinatra’s early life and career and features words from his closest associates as well as performances and interviews with the legend himself. 


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Adelphoi Music, Wed, 02 Dec 2020 14:38:47 GMT