30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Anvil: The Band That Didn't Make It, But Should...,
This review is from: Anvil: The Story of Anvil (DVD)The Story of Anvil is a Rock 'n' Roll cautionary tale for those of us living out our Rock 'n' Roll dreams. You can be an innovative band, have the respect of your peers, and have the same access to fans but still not make it into big time Rock 'n' Roll. The story of Anvil is also a story of hope, friendship and following your artistic vision to create something that not only do you like but will be there after you're gone.
Anvil is a Heavy Metal band created by childhood friends Steve "Lips" Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner. They've been together as a band for almost 30 years and while bassists have come and gone they still share a dream to make it to the big time. Their belief in themselves isn't unrealistic, as proved by interviews by such Heavy Metal luminaries as Lars Ullrich, Lemmy (from Motorhead), and Slash attest to. They credit Anvil with being Heavy Metal innovators not only in their music such as songs like Metal On Metal, which Ullrich says other bands used and borrowed without ever looking back, but in stage appearance such as Lips early penchant for wearing bondage outfits onstage, and using dildos as a guitar slide.
There is a pathos present too. As the band embarks on a European tour that was managed by an amateur promoter, they played bars where the band almost out number the patrons, or a bar owner that tries to rip them off. There's also the family and friends who are shown and they understand and support the dreams and ambitions of Reiner and Kudlow. A sister of Kudlow going so far as to front money for Anvil to record with Heavy Metal producer Chris Tsangarides (Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy).
Why didn't Anvil make it? The movie isn't about that, although, Lips and Robb wrestle with it a little. Lips seems to think it's because in 25 years of Rock `n' Roll they never had good management. Another reason that might explain why they didn't make it goes uncommented on by either the filmmaker or the band themselves. It may be the reason they didn't rise in the Rock `n' Roll world is the band members themselves. During a recording session, which they shelled out 13,000 pounds to producer Chris Tsangarides and for reasons not clear at first, Lips blows up at Reiner and even goes so far as to say Reiner is "fired." After an impromptu therapy session run by Tsangarides, Lips and Reiner make up. How much of this played into their not making it to the big time? The movie doesn't delve into that aspect at all, and keeps the focus on their struggles of the present.
Some reviewers and critics argue that Anvil just wasn't as good as other bands they were contemporaries with, such as The Scorpions, Bon Jovi, Metallica. I'm not much of an expert on Heavy Metal but both in the vintage footage of them playing in Japan and in hearing songs off their new album This Is Thirteen they sound as good as any other band in the oeuvre. Their music has moments where the music has something of interest, but my only complaint is the same I have for any other Heavy/Speed Metal band, is they blow past those moments too fast looking for the next interesting phrase.
The movie seems to elicit Spinal Tap comparisons. Maybe it's because the format resembles Spinal Tap so much. We can't leave out the coincidence that the drummer and founding member of Anvil is Robb Reiner. But there are some Spinal Tap moments in the movie such as when the band is recording and the producer turns up a volume control that you quite clearly can see goes to 11! There is also Reiner's painting of a giant anvil in the middle of a park. Other paintings of his are quite good, reminiscent of Edward Hooper. There are moments the band itself seems cognizant of being like Spinal Tap, such as when the band is being lead to the stage and Lips is delivering a monologue about them being lost backstage.
One question I asked myself while watching this movie is, it's very cool to have all those heavy hitting, heavy metal rockers saying how cool and innovative Anvil is, but couldn't they ask Anvil to open for them? That might get them the exposure they need. Hopefully, this film will bring Anvil a larger audience.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 4, 2009 2:48:17 PM PDT
great review,, one comment though,, its almost expected for band members to argue, even fist fight during recording,, but your review was great!!!
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2009 3:30:42 PM PDT
Thank you Boxers! Yeah, bands fight, I don't know about...well maybe you are right, it's expected!
Thanks for the review of the review! & the helpful vote!
Posted on Oct 5, 2009 10:26:09 PM PDT
Joseph M. Davis says:
Actually they have now kind of made it. Tomorrow night they headline the Tonight Show. Letterman needs to get them on too though since all eyes are on him at the moment. Not to mention that they opened for AC/DC this summer and they have a strong cult following now that any band would be proud of. Long live Anvil!
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2009 8:22:13 AM PDT
Well, that's pretty cool! I'll have to watch the Tonight Show, tomorrow, that's very cool!
Posted on Oct 13, 2009 7:05:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 13, 2009 7:07:06 PM PDT
C. D. White says:
Like everyone else I wanted to say great review. Also, a lot of times a tour on the scale you're talking about the corporatons, record companies have a major say so into who's on the bill from what I can tell. I mean every once in a while a band will throw out a curveball/oddball band like Anvil (at least for right now since up until this movie Anvil wouldn't have been considered a "viable commodity"...in fact this movie is probably a major reason why they are opening for AC/DC)...anyway point is a big tour is big business nowadays and that contributes heavily to everything from venue to supporting act to ticket price. For example, if the average concertgoer shelled out $100 to see Metallica in say 2003 when Anvil was virtually unknown, they would expect to at least know if not like the supporting act that way they're not paying $100 JUST to see Metallica if you get what I'm saying.
Anyway, like I said great review.
Posted on Feb 25, 2010 8:22:19 PM PST
In the commentary the film-maker says that the amp going to 11 is not faked. Rather that in the wake of Spinal Tap being so popular, amp makers starting having the amp nob markings go up to 11. I have not verified this myself.
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