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Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music
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The art and evolution of music recording is one of the 20th century’s great untold stories. Executive Produced by legendary Beatles producer Sir George Martin, this eight-part series combines more than 150 original interviews with rare archival studio footage—and an extensive soundtrack featuring almost 300 songs—to explore the extraordinary impact of recorded music on our lives.
Soundbreaking provides unprecedented access to some of the most celebrated artists, producers, and music industry pioneers of all time, including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Dave Grohl, Debbie Harry, Steven Van Zandt, Chuck D, BB King, Brian Eno, Tom Petty, Roger Daltrey, Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart, Smokey Robinson, Quincy Jones, RZA, Roger Waters, St. Vincent, Rick Rubin, Bonnie Raitt, Questlove, and Beck. The series explores a century’s worth of innovation and experimentation, from the Beatles’ groundbreaking use of multitrack technology to the synthesized stylings of Stevie Wonder, from disco-era drum machines to the modern art of sampling. You’ll hear the songs you love in a whole new way.
Executive Producers: Higher Ground
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The DVD and Bluray for home viewing is being released by RLJ, on its culture imprint: Athena. All 8 episodes (which run about 54 minutes each) are there on three discs along with 30 minutes of “extra footage” and a 20-page booklet of comments from folks like George Benson, Tony Bennett, Eric Clapton and two pages by Executive Producer Sir George Martin. There is also a four-page “listing” of the performers and songs for each episode, so you can find them. But this is a documentary and so you will not hear any COMPLETE songs – obviously not enough time. There are over 150 interviews here, not seen before.
The bonus footage includes a fairly long piece on playing the drums with Ringo Starr explaining how his drum set is different than other drummers’ methods. There’s Les Paul (from an old interview explain (again) how he invented the electric guitar.
As a collector of acoustic 78rpm records (as well as Lps, cassettes and CDS), I was surprised to see some major faux pas in the last episode on recording technologies. The narrator (Dermot Mulroney) explains that – in 1947 – Peter Goldmark (not given credit) invested the LP record and that RCA exec David Sarnoff challenged his staff to find a different long playing format. They came up with the 45 RPM 7 inch disc. So, what do the filmmakers do to demonstrate a 45 RPM record? They play a 45 of Rosemary Clooney on a clearly-marked COLUMBIA 45 from a few years later! Actually that last Episode which goes from the wax cylinder to the MP3, is a great educational tool for those too young to remember them (despite some other informational errors). But how could they not even mention the 8-track tape, which was the first portable music for automobiles (before the cassette tape)?
There are episodes on the rise of Hip Hop, The use of Session Men, The rise of MTV and Music Videos and more. Some small coverage is given to pop singers like Sinatra and Crosby – and virtually nothing about classical or “world” music – with more emphasis on pop (as in Madonna and Amy Winehouse) and rock. There are many non-musicians interviewed – often listed as “music historian” – but – no more than one or two were familiar music journalists to me. (and I am a music journalist). But those interviewed generally sounded like they were informed.
There’s a in-progress PBS series planned about American “Roots Music” titled “American Epic”. It was partially completed in 2015 for debut in 2016. An abbreviated version has been making the rounds at film festivals. Now there is hope that it will air in Spring 2017. I hope so. But, as we can see by how long it took to get the “Soundbreaking “ series to the public, we can only hope.
This is a DVD/BD which belongs in every school or college library and of you missed it on PBS (or want to see again – without the editing), I can recommend the purchase of the physical product. It’s not perfect but something like this will probably not happen again – unless Ken Burns decides to do a similar project. His Country Music documentary is scheduled for 2018!
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
Starts off with who else but Elvis Presley and then The Beatles. Then there’s Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, The Ronettes, Phil Spector, Sly and The Family Stone, Dr Dre and concludes with Rick Rubin’s recounting of Johnny Cash’s comeback.
Features stories on George Martin and The Beatles, Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys and The Eurythmics. Interviews with George Martin, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Elton John, Brian Eno, Rick Rubin, Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox.
Features stories on Adele, Frank Sinatra, Amy Winehouse, Roger Troutman, Kanye West and Cher. Interviews with Annie Lennox, Connie Smith, Mark Ronson, Ben Harper and Linda Perry.
Features stories on Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder and The Black Keys.
Features stories on Little Richard, James Brown , Motown and the Disco era (Chic, Donna Summer, The Bee Gees), Madonna, Bruno Mars and electronic dance music.
Features on hip-hop in the Bronx, Rum-DMC, Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys.
Features on MTV, David Bowie, The Beatles, Blondie, Devo, Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Eurythmics and Nirvana.,
Features on Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead.
Originally telecast on PBS on Nov 14 -23, 2016, Soundbreaking, Stories From The Cutting Edge Of Recorded Music, with over 150 interviews and about 300 music clips is a MUST HAVE for anyone that just likes music...period
Any music enthusiast will learn things they didn't know before, just by watching this.
that being said, fantastic doc series, highly recommended to any music lover.