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Music biopic and doco recommendations, please

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 11:47 21/03/2014

It's been a long week - it's felt like Friday since Tuesday; that's never a good sign. Lots of work on this week and though the New Zealand Festival is over, I'm busier this weekend with gigs than I was the entire time the festival was running. Actually, I think this year's New Zealand Festival was a real letdown gig-wise. Okay, so I loved Neko Case and Yo La Tengo, enjoyed Paul Brady and Madeleine Peyroux was nice enough - the only real stinker was Charles Bradley - but there just weren't a lot of options. There was no festival hub, as has been the case in previous years. The Spiegeltent might be as expensive option but it really ties the room, er, festival together. And where was all the local music? In previous years we've had great gigs from the likes of The Phoenix Foundation and Dave Dobbyn, Tim Finn and all sorts - I remember seeing Lucid 3 when otherwise I wouldn't have bothered, and the first festival I ever attended featured one of my favourite live gigs; one of the first I reviewed - Don McGlashan in charge of a three-piece, Don adding bass-drum to his own guitar, SJD on bass and laptop. I think it was the first time that he had offered material from all of the bands he'd been in. These sorts of shows are every bit as important - more so, I'd argue - than seeing some James Brown-imposter. I hope the Festival addresses this next time.

Anyway, as I said earlier in the week - it's Billy Bragg time this weekend. And also, tomorrow night, I'm off to see Martha Davis & The Motels - click here to read my interview with Davis.

But tonight is a rare night in - and therefore a night off. I'm not playing records down at the pub tonight, and it's something of a treat to have a Friday night in. Might be a chance to rent a DVD.Greetings From Tim Buckley

The guy in the shop recommended Greetings From Tim Buckley - saying that it was clear the lead actor had created such a compelling Jeff Buckley impersonation it almost seemed as if the film had been built around that. I'll watch it at some stage - if anyone tells me a music biopic is good I see it. If they tell me it's terrible I'm almost inclined to bump it up the list. I'm always fascinated to see how music stories play out when framed for the big screen - framed in more than one way, that is.

But I'm not sure I can do the Jeff Buckley thing this weekend - I remembered that I never want to hear Grace ever again and though I've always thought I preferred Tim Buckley the last time I listened to Greetings From L.A. I was really put off.

One thing I've taken to recently is the soundtrack from La Bamba. I know, late bloomer right? Actually, I've had the soundtrack since I saw the film back when it was released over quarter of a century ago (ouch! - hurts to say it like that). The soundtrack album has been in my record collection almost forever but I've been playing it - and/or selected cuts from it - a lot recently. Probably because every few months I remind myself of what a thoroughly kickass band Los Lobos is - and this for me was where it started; where I first heard the band. It might not be the shining light of their career but it's always been the beacon for me. I've only ever seen the film one time - I shouldn't imagine it's dated particularly well. I'm thankful for the introduction to Los Lobos though.

But in writing my thoughts down around the La Bamba soundtrack just the other day I did get to thinking about music biopics. Well, that and the brief chat with the video store guy about the Buckley film...

So I wonder if you have any recommendations for a good - or terrible - music biopic; a recent one preferably, or something a little obscure from back in the day. A now overlooked classic perhaps, like Coal Miner's Daughter. But please, no mentions of Walk The Line. That always comes up in these discussions and it's really not a very good movie at all. Well, not if it purports to be connected to the Johnny Cash story. Just a little too Hollywood-buffing for me.

Last chance today to be in to win a copy of A Band Called Death on DVD.

And so I'll also take recommendations on music documentaries rather than just biopics. Anyone seen the Pussy Riot one yet?

I also wanted to mention to you that Jan Hellriegel has a new video - a short film, actually - and a new song that it accompanies. Check it out here.Laura Cantrell

And if you're looking for a music tip for the weekend - try the new Laura Cantrell. Oh man, this is fantastic. I'm so in love with this album. I was going to write more about it to try to sell you all on it - but I know many of you will just tell me it's obscure and hipster-ish, when it's not. And others will perhaps already know and already be enjoying it. But give it a chance if you haven't heard her before - or haven't checked her out in a while. I love her voice and her songwriting. The playing and production is exquisite. It's a 10/10 album for me.

Hey, speaking of ropey biopics see the first pic of Jason Segel in the upcoming David Foster Wallace film. The film will be a dud no doubt. And hey, there's a connection here to mentioning that. Foster Wallace was, briefly, a music writer of sorts. And I did blog about him way back, a long time ago now...

Alright, now ends my meandering Friday post. Happy weekend to you all - and roll in those music biopic/doco recommendations...

Any gigs you're seeing - or playing - this weekend? Pimp your show here in the comments by all means.

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