This week, the latest music documentary -- One Direction: This is Us -- hits theaters. Director Morgan Spurlock spent three months on tour with the guys, whirling from Japan to Norway to Mexico, but doesn't seem to have asked them a single question besides, "How does it feel to be really, really popular?" Instead, he lumps them together like a box of chicken nuggets.
As an antidote, we present this collection of 35 music documentaries that are worth seeing.
When we're first introduced to emaciated, bug-eyed, trembling Bobby Liebling, the fiftyish frontman of the frequently dormant cult metal band Pentagram and the subject of this small-scale but weirdly
"We Jam Econo (2005)
"Some dudes from Pedro" found themselves in the Southern California punk scene, befriending Black Flag, although the sounds of the Minutemen guitarist D. Boon were wildly different than the low-e
"The Road to God Knows Where (1990)
The product of a German film student with a single handheld camera spending five weeks on the road with one of the must-see underground acts of the 1980s, The Road To God Knows
"Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? (2006)
A really good documentary is capable of taking you to a world you don't care about, explaining a boiling controversy you weren't aware of, and leaving you with th
"American Hardcore (2006)
This hardcore chronicle is great, covering all the cities with scenes of fans and bands, interviewing the men and women who were on the frontlines of the genres birthing, including godfathers
"Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010)
If you aren't a fan of these prog gods from the Great White North, you will at least have a respect for them after checking out this star-studded doc. Trent Reznor and Billy Cor
This Ondi Timoner film made Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe an instant batshit rock and roll legend and painted The Dandy Warhols as a Pollyanna-ish pack of kids in over their heads. -
"The Devil & Daniel Johnston (2005)
The best thing about this Daniel Johnston flick is that it does not shy away from explaining his mental illness, showing how DJ's fight effected his family and friends. The home fo
This 1988 film and 2006's The U.S. Vs. John Lennon are looks into what made J-Yo tick. The scenes dealing with Lennon's "lost weekend" in the former are excellent. --Craig Hlavaty"
"I Am Trying To Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco (2002)
Over the course of two hours, Wilco is seen recording Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and then getting shafted by Reprise. We love the part where a harried Jeff Tweedy
"The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
This Penelope Spheeris documentary, plus her Roger Corman-produced punksploitation Suburbia, no doubt turn countless kids into punk rockers after one viewing, if not
This look into Texas garage legend Roky Erickson's life isn't so much different than the Daniel Johnston flick, with both dealing in the family drama behind mental illness. Now we just ha
"Hated: GG Allin & the Murder Junkies (2012)
If you ever wanted to see GG Allin throw feces and piss on his fans, Hated is your chance. The 1994 doc was directed by Todd Phillips, who would go on to also mak
"It Might Get Loud (2008)
Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White join forces to show us how they each make their signature sounds. White builds a guitar on a back porch, and Page is generally a badass. The Edge shows us
"Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (2007)
Following the same course as Westway, The Future Is Unwritten jumps into the life at the heart of the Clash, Strummer, and the meandering turns his life
"Radiohead: Meeting People Is Easy (1998)
Radiohead goes insane on tour as they overtake Oasis as the biggest band from the UK in the last years of the '90s. --Craig Hlavaty"
Grunge hit Seattle like an atom bomb, and this 1996 doc talks to locals who were the most effected, from zine publishers, the bands, to the folks at Sub Pop Records who sat on top of it all. It gets san
"Westway To the World (2000)
The best film about the Clash, so far, takes you from the band's fitful beginnings to pop semi-stardom and finally their slow-motion collapse. which the late Joe Strummer is seen choking
"Thunder Soul (2010)
Straight out of a high school in Texas, the electrifying Kashmere Stage Band was the brainchild of gifted music teacher Conrad Johnson."