A film on the Kinks’ reunion on its way and now this, 2009 is going to be an exciting year for rock documentaries. Sony Picture Classics is going to release a motion picture that pays tribute to the electric guitar and chose three iconic rock heroes as its ambassadors: Jack White, The Edge and Jimmy Page. Actually, Sony didn’t have anything to do with the concept. They just acquired the film from Thomas Tull, CEO of Legendary Film, and are probably gonna get all the credit. Directed by Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim (dude who directed An Inconvenient Truth, that documentary on global warming presented by Al Gore), the rockumentary received great acclaim as it premiered at Toronto’s International Film Festival last September. It Might Get Loud, to be released next summer by the way, ‘isn’t like any other rock’n roll documentary. Filmed through the eyes of three virtuosos from three different generations, audiences get up close and personal, discovering how a furniture upholsterer from Detroit, a studio musician and painter from London and a seventeen-year-old Dublin schoolboy, each used the electric guitar to develop their unique sound and rise to the pantheon of superstar. Rare discussions are provoked as we travel with Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White to influential locations of their pasts‘.
We will even get to see them jamming together. Yay! (unfortunately not in the video below)
The choice of the three legends is interesting as their musical backgrounds were put to contribution during very different rock eras. Jimmy incarnates the highlights of the sixties and the seventies classic rock period, Dave Evans (The Edge) embodies the textural (over-reverbarized) guitar sounds of the 80s and 90s pop-rock scene, and Jack White, well Jack is the byproduct of the counter culture surrounding contemporary pop-rock.
The choice of the trio is interesting, but intriguing. Jimmy Page is like a freakin’ crazy genius of a guitar player (I really can’t describe him otherwise if I don’t want to start a novel on his contribution to music) and he set a whole new playing field with his works in Led Zepplin. Heck, even with the YardBirds.
I can’t possibly put Jack White in the same category of genius, be he certainly is one. With the White Stripes he relaunched the classic rock scene and re-opened the portal to one of the greatest rock genres ever. So many bands have gone back to those raw sounds, raw riffs, raw power and energy blasting out of raw tube amps. Just to name a few I’m thinking of Wolfmother, The Black Keys, 16 Horsepower, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Raconteurs (also one of White’s projects. Saw them live in Montreal. Incredible show).
Different eras produce different types of prodigies. Back in the old days all musicians were technically better, were monsters of theory, had backgrounds in all sorts of genres and played countless hours a day. Think of all those progressive rock bands the music industry proudly promoted at the time: Yes, King Crimson, Genisis, Deep Purple, Led Zepplin, Soft Machine, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, Caravan, Van Der Graaf Generator, Emerson, Lake and Palmer… Man, I could go on and on. All those bands were musical behemoths, and not only on a technical level. Anyways, to put money in such musical genres nowadays is totally out of the question, and a consequence of that is less appeal to virtuoso musicianship.
That’s just the ways things were back then. And besides, technological constraints musicians had to cope with (well at the time to record on a two or a four track seemed like rocket science, so they didn’t feel it as constraints) while recording obliged them to be good. By our current standards, they were robot-good. Now it’s all about having more than 100 tracks, over dubbing every syllable on the vocal tracks, auto-tuning those vocals, recording guitars in hundreds of takes, remodeling their sounds in post-production, chip and chopping every single element on a damn drum set and gluing them to the grid with sophisticated time-stretchin’-audio chompin’-sample replacin’ tools. And that’s just the visible portion of the iceberg.
Anyways, Jack White is certainly not like that – this seventies-rock revival also embraces live takes in the studio- and his technical skills are very impressive. He and Jimmy are both massive icons of the guitars and represent a symbolic and powerful evolution of two similar genres separated by 35 years.
Now The Edge on the other hand…yea sure he’s good, U2 wrote incredibly catchy beautiful tunes, they are probably the most iconic band in the world right now, but still don’t really get why he got involved. They could’ve chosen so many other guitarists that had a much greater impact on the evolution of the electric guitar than The Edge during the eighties and nineties. Just to name a few Van Halen, Steve Vai, Angus Young, Slash, Pete Townsend, Brian May, George Clinton, Jeff Beck…
Bah, it’s still going to be a great documentary and I can’t wait to see it.