Friday, August 14, 2009

It Might Get Loud Again

Tonight was the opening night of It Might Get Loud, and I went to see it at the only Orange County (CA) theater showing it this week, a tiny screen in the University of Irvine grounds. Fortuitously, school is out, so it wasn't sold out.

It didn't get loud. The sound barely broke 80 dB. Luckily most of the audience was reverentially silent. Someone breathing too loud might have ruined the film. We had to eat popcorn quietly, which is always a bummer. But, we can't always get what we want ((c) Mick Jagger) and so we'll take what we get.

I still love the film, but I have to point out the following:

This man is not "Blind Gary Davis". He has a title. He's the Reverend Gary Davis.

This, presented as Jimmy's first guitar-love in the movie, is not a "strat" for goodness' sake. It's a Grazioso.

The video of this (nice video!) and these stills were not taken at Headley Grange during the sessions for Led Zeppelin IV in 1970. They were taken at Stargroves, Mick Jagger's home, in 1972.

(Copyright Kramer Archives Inc. - original appears at his website here)

Setting up Jimmy Page as bored with being a studio musician, fed up with playing "muzak" on sessions and zing! flash-cutting straight to Jimmy playing this astounding monster riff with the Yardbirds would have worked much better if this was Jimmy Page playing an astounding monster riff. It's actually Jimmy Page miming Jeff Beck's astounding monster riff for TV. Jeff had recently left the Yardies and Jimmy was left to promote the track.

Always loved this song. How could you dislike a song that begins "Sick at heart and lonely, deep in dark despair"?

It Might Get Loud has the color version of this clip, which is not available on YouTube. I have it somewhere on a VHS but not alas on my computer.

Once again I loved the difference between the brash American Jack White, the soft-spoken Irish gentleman Edge and erudite English gentleman Page. I liked the way the two blues players had so much in common and felt for poor Edge, rather left out of it, particularly slide playing, because it's just not his thing. I noticed for the first time that Jimmy can do everything Jack can do - feel the music deep down, play the blues and use every analog recording trick known to mankind, and can also do pretty much everything the Edge can do, in terms of production, bigged-up stadium sounds, and effects. I also get the feeling that Jimmy Page can play scales whereas the other two would boggle at the concept. I wonder if he gives lessons?

This time round it was clear how much Davis Guggenheim had cut the film to contrast the players. Each one would explain what he was rebelling against and then the film cuts to one of the others doing exactly that thing. It's strongest when the Edge eulogizes the beauty of technology and how he strives to find his 'voice' using it, which is friskily cross-cut with Jack White grumpily dumping on the entire concept of technological innovation. In the famous "build your own electric diddley-bow" scene (below), my partner said, "You don't need a guitar. All you need is a plank of wood, some baling wire, a coke bottle -- and a coil-wound magnet, electrical lead, amplifier, speaker and electricity." Yep.

As White writes a song on camera, plays and records it, we added, "And a microphone and a reel to reel tape recorder".

The best bit is still this- Jimmy just bursting with love for rock and roll music, laughing and playing air guitar, here.


Casey said...

Just a few of the reasons I disliked that sloppy excuse for a documentary. Number one reason: Guggenheim is a yuppie rock tourist with no depth of understanding of his subjects. It seemed like a movie made by a bored millionaire who's first real "connection" to Zep happened at O2.

All of it was off. "This is a film about electric guitar." Here's the main figure from "Battle of Evermore" which is played on a frigging mandolin!

And God, why so many shots of Edge playingbthat rubbish riff from "Get On Your Boots?"

I could go on. But it's probably rude.

Peromyscus said...

I know, Casey, you said!

I must admit when I was watching that great scene of Jack White, where he's storming at the piano, stomping his foot so hard the camera's jumping across the floor and he shows the kid how to impress the girls by kicking the chair away...I suddenly realized he was playing a piano, not a guitar (as he also was in the Chelsea Pensioners scene). At that moment I swear I heard the ghostly sound of you laughing behind me.

I'm not going to hate it though.

If you feel another upwelling of dislike coming on, take two choruses of the URL below and if the feeling doesn't go away, call me in the morning!

Anonymous said...

please tell me you know the name to that song...the one where he's teaching his son @ the piano and he kicks the chair away

Peromyscus said...

Anonymous: I don't remember what he was playing, except for the thumping beat. Looking at the credits, it must have been Carter/Jacobs' Sittin' on Top of the World, although that really doesn't fit with how I partially remember it. Here's Bobby Dylan singing it:

If that's not it, have a look at the credits here on pg 17 etc and see if there's another one that matches the description.


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