Sep 122012

Imagine, if you will, a series of short films documenting classic live albums. Directors would be commissioned to either assemble a concert film from archived or found footage or stage dramatic interpretations of the album. Each film would run the length of the live album’s original vinyl release.

You mission follows:

  • Suggest a live album for this treatment
  • Select an appropriate director
  • Imagine the visual style/storytelling technique for your film.

I’d like to see Paul Thomas Anderson direct a dramatic treatment of Lou Reed‘s Rock ‘n Roll Animal. It would be shot in grainy, washed-out color, somewhere between the porno look of Boogie Nights and the painterly oil drilling scenes from There Will Be Blood.

Staying with Lou Reed, I’d like to see The Velvet Underground‘s Live at Max’s Kansas City directed by Michel Gondry, who would find ways to make the most of the crumbling legacy of an already underground band as they plays what would be their farewell show. Song performances involving puppetry and primitive-futuristic technology would be expected.

The summer tentpole movies of this series would be KISS Alive I & II. I’ll leave it to fans of that band’s live albums to select the director(s) and sketch out the films’ treatments.

I’m sure you’ve got your own classic live album short films to produce.


  21 Responses to “You Oughta Be in Pictures: Live Albums That Could Be Short Films”

  1. Michael Bay is a shoe in for Kiss Alive 2 because by then the myth was full blown and he could ratchet up the larger than life tomfoolery. Alive 1 might benefit from someone with a little more heart since it could be a great rags to riches story. Maybe Darren Aronofsky would be a good fit since he directed the Wrestler, and KISS is just like pro wrestling but with guitars.

    Tim Burton could take on Tom Waits Glitter and Doom album or maybe he could just reshoot the Big Time movie because, although the band was great in the latter, the interludes between the songs have not held up well at all, and the look of the movie is harsh. If you are looking for something more subtle, Jim Jarmusch would be an excellent choice.

    Finally, I would love to see Scorsese take some of his unique combination of grit and heart and apply it to a live album by a band who had been through it all, (from grinding it out in small clubs while dirt poor to playing a part in some of Rock’s seminal moments to hitting it big) and were now going to retire while on top of their game. I’m envisioning a lot of down-home, earnest stories about life on The Road, interspersed with performances by famous friends of the group. As I’m writing it down, it sounds like it would be kind of maudlin, but I think it could play well on the big screen.

  2. The Who, Live at Leeds (original, non-expanded version), directed by Danny Boyle in kitchen-sink-drama-style B&W (Look Back in Anger, Billy Liar.

    Richard Thompson, Small Town Romance, directed by Mike Leigh, filming the Bottom Line like it’s an old English pub

    Quasi, Live Shit, directed by Noah Baumbach, honing in on the songs as dialogues between two divorcees.

  3. diskojoe

    Hey, CDM, I think Scorsese did that movie! 😉

    My first thought would be Wes Anderson doing a Kinks live album, but Live At Kelvin Hall, One From the Road & The Road Live would be too loud ‘n crude for his sensiblities. Perhaps he could direct the live half of Everybody’s In Show-Biz.

  4. Thank you, Oats, for abiding by the “original vinyl release” rule. Of course, for any worthwhile live albums that may have first appeared on CD, let’s stick with “original CD release.”

    I don’t think I know the Quasi live album, but I do know a couple of their albums. I love your suggestions. This idea could be happening, like that 33 1/3 series of books.

  5. Wes Anderson directing the live half of Everybody’s in Show-Biz may be as perfect a pairing as anyone will come up with. (Although Michael Bay doing KISS Alive II is right up there.)

  6. Give Fleetwood Mac Live to Penny Marshall. She would film all the uncomfortable sexual tension, love/hate, deception, and infidelity among the various individual members and pairs into a delightful romantic comedy romp.

  7. alexmagic

    Richard Linklater’s Frampton Comes Alive!, pitched somewhere between SubUrbia and Dazed and Confused. Ethan Hawke stars as the mysterious Frampton-esque rock star/Christ figure who shows up in the suburbs and “awakens” the disaffected teens (after asking them “Do you feel like I do?), each of whom is then shown in that rotoscoped animation style from Linklater’s Waking Life.

  8. The last film from the late Tony Scott is Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group! The wiry Jeff Beck plays himself as an ex-cop, now a guitarist in a jazz rock group. Beck drives the Cougars at the bar wild with his sleeveless tees, English accent, and signature version of The Beatles’ She’s A Woman. But when a bad guy steals a blondie’s iPhone from the bar, Beck demostrates he hasn’t lost his love of fast cars and chases the crook down in his restored 65 Mustang to the strains of Freeway Jam!

  9. ladymisskirroyale

    To connect two posts, Baz Luhrmann would be the choice to direct Queen’s “Live Killers.” Bonus points: at times, Baz sports a mustache.

    Hand over the academy award now.

  10. Slim Jade

    I’d put Jim Jarmusch’s swampy black & white “Down By Law” slant on “Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out”.

  11. John Sayles does Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s Live Bullet. David Strathairn adds 20 pounds of flab and beard to play the charismatic working-class singer.

  12. Woody Allen directs the Ramones “It’s Alive”. You only see 5 minutes of actual concert footage, but you get 90 minutes of Joey kvetching about his phobias and obsessions in and around various famous New Yawk settings. Then he has an affair with a woman 2 generations younger than him.

  13. mockcarr

    Clint Eastwood is set to direct a film using footage from the current Springsteen tour, except he has Bruce yelling at a chair representing the Big Man, and the imaginary Clarence tells Bruce to become an onanist since he’s going on without him, and he’s supposed to have written a bunch of great songs by now, but really kind of sucks.

  14. Two tickets, please!

  15. Surprised no one’s come up with one for Robert Altman. I’m going to say Europe ’72 by the Grateful Dead. His love of sprawling communities will give the Deadheads their due. His sometimes cynical eye will make the film palatable for the band’s many detractors as well.

  16. That’s an excellent call. I was trying to think of a spot for Altman but couldn’t com up with one.

  17. diskojoe

    I couldn’t see Woody Allen doing It’s Alive. Johnny would probably beat the crap out of him. I think that Roger Corman or Joe Dante would be a better choice, with Joey as an insect-stick monster who rocks ‘n rolls inbetween terrorizing the populace

  18. Sam Peckinpah’s AC/DC, “If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It”


  19. Please, keep Burton away from Waits (and everyone else, as far as I’m concerned…except maybe Oingo Boingo)!

  20. I think Danny Boyle came along a little too late in the day for “Live At Leeds”…maybe Tony Richardson would be a more apt choice. Good call on the Thompson album, though.

  21. Wrong type of New Yorker.

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