Prime Screening Room: Music Documentaries

Amazon Prime members can view these fascinating music documentaries for free, but even if you don’t have Prime any of these are worth the rental price for music fans.

Sound City (not rated, 5/5 stars, currently priced at $2.99 to rent in SD / $3.99 in HD, $7.99 to own in SD / $9.99 in HD) is the Dave Grohl -directed and -produced documentary about the seminal sound recording studio of the same name, and it’s a must-see for anyone who considers him- or herself a fan of rock n’ roll.

Sound City is the studio where some of the greatest albums of all time were recorded (with the exception of the Sound City album itself (currently included in the Prime Music library, so Prime members can add it to their libraries for free), every other album pictured in this post was recorded there), and Sound City tells the story of what made the studio unique through interviews with Sound City staff and the rock luminaries who recorded there, including Grohl, Stevie Nicks, Lee Ving, John Fogerty, Neil Young, Mick Fleetwood, Tom Petty, members of Rage Against the Machine, Trent Reznor, and many more.


Brian Eno 1971-1977: The Man Who Fell To Earth (not rated, 4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $3.95 to rent in SD, $16.95 to own in SD)

This documentary film – the first ever about Eno – explores his life, career and music between the years 1971 & 1977, the period that some view as his golden age.

Featuring numerous exclusive interviews, contributions from a range of musicians, writers, collaborators and friends – plus performance and studio film and an abundance of the most exceptional music ever created.

One Amazon reviewer says:
“If you are a follower or fan of Brian Eno you will at least watch the film to the end (maybe not in one sitting.) For myself – a fairly regularly follower of Eno from his days with Roxy Music onto his marvelous quartet of singing records – Here Come the Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, Another Green World and Before and After Science – and into that vast collection of experimental music known as “Ambient” – the film was a welcome resume’ of more than forty years of unique and substantive sounds…”


David Bowie: The Calm Before the Storm (not rated, 3.5/5 stars, currently priced at $3.95 to rent in SD, $16.95 to own in SD)

David Bowie’s first record was issued as early as 1964 and so began, in the view of many, the most creative career in the history contemporary music. This film focuses on “Space Oddity,” “Man Who Sold the World” and “Hunky Dory.”

KF on KND Editor April L. Hamilton says:
A very worthwhile documentary for Bowie fans. Bowie’s Space Oddity was the first album I ever owned, at the age of 12, which should tell you how big a fan I am. Yet this documentary included a lot of footage, anecdotes and biographical information I’d never seen before.


Frank Zappa – From Straight To Bizarre (not rated, 4/5 stars, currently priced at $3.95 to rent in SD, $16.95 to own in SD)

Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper and LA’s Lunatic Fringe.

One Amazon reviewer says:
This was a fascinating look at Zappa not as composer and performer, but as producer and manager-There was a lot of information here that I was totally unaware of…

Another Amazon reviewer says:
Hugely insightful documentary into Frank’s early record labels (Straight and Bizarre) and the artists he recorded.


Strange Fruit – The Beatles’ Apple Records (not rated, 4/5 stars, currently priced at $3.95 to rent in SD, $16.95 to own in SD)

The extraordinary story of a most extraordinary record label.

One Amazon reviewer says:

For a non-Apple production this is worthwhile .. it’s not like the Beatles Secrets or any of these many videos with all public domain footage and no Beatles music, this has actual Beatles music and video content, along with good critical analysis from a couple of authors of Beatle related books, along with music and video by the most common Apple Records artists – Mary Hopkin, Badfinger, Jackie Lomax, James Taylor, and more – if you have the Apple Records compilation of a couple years ago that’s kind of a soundtrack to this film.

Insightful interviews with Jackie Lomax, Tony Bramwell, and a couple of the remaining Badfinger/Iveys players who were around at the time. Probably the only negative on this was the few minutes spent discussing and talking to David Peel, but overall a good watch.

Plus actual video footage from inside 3 Saville Row, which I’ve never seen on anything even the Anthology or Compleat.


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