Featured DVD Review from Issue #89: Records Collecting Dust

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Records Collecting Dust: DVD

This is the type of endearingly brilliant concept every half-baked and would-be-baked filmographer in the world punts themselves in the ass for not thinking of first (or claims they thought of ten years ago, and, through no fault of their own [of course], failed to execute). Just shooting a documentary in which musicians just talk about the records that were important in their lives. Fuck, that’s genius in our time. If that concept formed the basis of a TV show—and I still had cable, and someone bought me a DVR—I’d totally watch it every week. Fucking great idea. However, even though the filmmakers are armed with a bulletproof concept and a fairly redoubtable lineup of interviewees—Jello Biafra, Keith Morris, Mike Watt—the final product somehow manages to come off as annoying just as often as it comes across as legitimately interesting. The film immediately lunges into a rapid-fire sequence of various scenester types answering the (unheard-by-the-viewer) question of what their first record was. Only every fifth or sixth person is immediately identifiable, unless you’ve got comprehensive knowledge of L.A. scenesters past and present and/or facial recognition software built into your retinas. The resulting effect is not unlike having a bunch of random people sitting next to you at the bar attempting to persuade you into thinking that they’re interesting because their first record was Kiss’s Alive. Then, for no discernible reason, there’s a clip of Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine playing live. Not a snippet of a song, so you can get a feel for who the guy is and what he’s all about (had that been an issue for you)—like, a WHOLE SONG. The purpose this serves in advancing the narrative remains a tad murky. The movie jerks along from random music dude to random music dude, more interested in delivering a sheer tonnage of responses than actually letting us know who these people are, why this is interesting, or why we should care in the first place. The folks who actually pull treasures out of their record collections to share with the camera fare the best: Jello with his sextuple-gatefold live Hawkwind album (complete with wrapping paper inner sleeves he made in high school), Lisa Fancher with her Move and Left Banke records, some dude (didn’t catch his name) who keeps pulling out Disney’s Thrilling Chilling Sounds of the Haunted House album—whoever he is, this guy rules. All that’s good stuff; random band dudes with Fast Times at Ridgemont High accents sitting on a sofa somewhere saying how some record or another, like, blew their mind—that’s a little less compelling. It’s a reasonably decent watch, but shallow and unsatisfying as well. Dammit, I don’t wanna see some guy sitting on a stool TALKING about how he owned a Sex Pistols and a Suicidal Tendencies album—Alert CNN! Fax World News Tonight! Who’s still got Obama on speed dial?! I wanna see someone haul out an old Slade album they got when they were fourteen and hear about how they hated the song “Find Yourself a Rainbow” so much they sped the turntable up to 78 rpm and chiseled it off with a steak knife! AND I WANT TO SEE THE STEAK KNIFE MARKS UP CLOSE!!! At root, the concept behind this movie is still a good one—however, I really think the vision would have been better articulated with way more time split between way fewer interviewees. As it stands, this movie seems to be more concerned with impressing me with the sheer number of local celebrities participating than it is with balming my soul with the highly incendiary manna of cinematic excellence. –Rev. Nørb (Riot House Pictures, riothouserecords.com)
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