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Classic Albums, covering 3 decades of popular music
March 1, 2013 9:32 PM   Subscribe

Classic Albums is a rock and pop documentary series, broadcast and on DVD, starting with The Making of Sgt. Pepper. There were 38 more albums covered, plus five more in the Netherlands...

They're not all online, but here's the list of available documentaries, in chronological order:
posted by filthy light thief (33 comments total) 112 users marked this as a favorite

 
wonderful!
posted by ReeMonster at 9:38 PM on March 1, 2013


I've seen a few of these on Netflix. Great series. Thanks for the reminder to seek out more.

The links vary in length from the full hour to five minutes or so. Just curious about that.
posted by wallabear at 9:57 PM on March 1, 2013


Just so folks know, at least some of these are available on Netflix streaming as well.
I especially like the sequences of producers or engineers or musicians sitting at a mixing desk and bringing different elements of the songs in and out and getting to hear how it all fits together. I think there were sequences like this in each of the ones I've seen.
posted by zoinks at 9:58 PM on March 1, 2013


Loved this show. I've seen a bunch of them but man, this is a great list.
Thanks for this; I was JUST sitting here thinking that I didn't want to go to bed yet and wishing there was a good music FPP to dig into...
posted by chococat at 10:05 PM on March 1, 2013


The episode on Fleetwood Mac's Rumours is not listed in the FPP but it is available on Netflix. That episode was my introduction to this series and expanded my appreciation of one of my favorite rock albums (the band members were all breaking up with each other while they were recording the album!).

Great post, BTW!
posted by mediated self at 10:12 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great Australian Albums is similar and was worth it for the episode on The Triffids.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:35 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have a feeling this tab's going to remain open in my browser for a long, long time.
posted by not_on_display at 10:51 PM on March 1, 2013


mediated self beat me to it- Rumours is one of my favorites in this series! Great post- nice to know there are so many others I can watch.
posted by Old Man McKay at 11:20 PM on March 1, 2013


when it's good, it's very good ... exactly the kind of thing I love, which is to get the process behind certain songs/albums I've come to love. I just wish they'd done it for more of my fave albums. Where's London Calling? Why Rio?
posted by philip-random at 12:27 AM on March 2, 2013


Such a brilliant series! I'll eventually get around to watching all of them but the first one I fired up was Motörhead. Phil and Lemmy and Eddie. So excellent!
posted by h00py at 12:59 AM on March 2, 2013


Well, maybe not all but a lot.
posted by h00py at 1:06 AM on March 2, 2013


"Where's London Calling? Why Rio?"

I will fight you.
posted by bardic at 1:09 AM on March 2, 2013


Unfortunately it seems like the Reasonable Doubt one has sync issues.

I've watched the Aja one a couple times since they were added to Netflix but I never noticed Rumors was on there. I just had to watch it. I knew the gist of the story, but didn't know how specific the songs really were. I can't imagine being asked to play on a song your recent ex wife wrote about her new lover.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:01 AM on March 2, 2013


I love these things. I think Netflix also has episodes for Who's Next and Graceland.
posted by DiscountDeity at 4:22 AM on March 2, 2013


I think this is the transcript of the Graceland one... Great post btw!
posted by Mr Ed at 4:39 AM on March 2, 2013


I've got both the Rumors and Aja episodes on DVD they fascinate me. I've spent just enough time in recording studios to understand what's happening, and to also be just dumbstruck-awed by how fucking talented and skilled those people are. I love studio-craft and consider it as much an art form as the playing/singing.

The nuance you get when they break down Buckingham's guitar bits in a couple places is stunning in it's complexity when you realize how it got blended in to where these little parts were almost in audible individually, but at the same time, absolutely essential to the resolution of the song. And of course, watching Chuck Rainey & Bernard Pudie play those bits solo is just pure porn for me.

I want all these.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:50 AM on March 2, 2013


When this show is good, it's GREAT.

"I especially like the sequences of producers or engineers or musicians sitting at a mixing desk and bringing different elements of the songs in and out and getting to hear how it all fits together. I think there were sequences like this in each of the ones I've seen.
posted by zoinks at 9:58 PM on March 1"


And unfortunately, this is where the show falls short. The early episodes all did this. It was fascinating to heard Duran's Rio deconstructed. And that you can tell that Nick Rhodes isn't really a good player and relies on computers/arps (that means hope for me! yay! but Taylor kills on bass). The Pink Floyd episode was similarly awesome. But then other episodes are little more than short bios of footage you've seen a million times before. And no sitting at the desk deconstructing the songs. (i wish the whole show was just that)
posted by readyfreddy at 5:23 AM on March 2, 2013


They are on Netflix but they really highlight how hard it is to find stuff on there. These shows technically share nothing except a common cover design. They aren't listed as a series, they don't all have Greatest Albums in the title, only som have common directors.

But they are great. Some are better than others. Some artists just aren't that into the technical side so it ends up just being a history of th band documentary rather than a breakdown of one album.
posted by smackfu at 5:48 AM on March 2, 2013


"Where's London Calling?"

My fav quote of all time, from AVClub about REO Speedwagon's Hi Infidelity. According to the head of Epic, REO Speedwagon was giving out gold watches to label guys to get the promo effort at the time.

“It wouldn’t have bothered me so much if the REO album had been a real good album,” Asher said. “But it just wasn’t. The Clash had a super album, and it was not getting any support. And I was meeting with [the heads of Epic], and I said, ‘I don’t hear anything about The Clash.’ And they said, ‘Well, we’re working this REO album, it’s much more important.’”
posted by C.A.S. at 5:55 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The deconstruction of several of the songs on the TP and the Heartbreakers doc is absolutely amazing. Benmont Tench is a genius.
posted by photoslob at 6:16 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen the Dead's "Anthem to Beauty" episode a few times and it really is "all that" - just a perfect deconstruction of their best creative period, at least from a songwriting and studio perspective. Looking forward to enjoying the rest of this series. Thanks!
posted by mosk at 7:24 AM on March 2, 2013


The links vary in length from the full hour to five minutes or so. Just curious about that.

Some links are to YouTube playlists, which still have the inline video icons [►], but will only display the first video in the series. Others are to complete videos on YouTube or Vimeo, while those links without inline video icons link to publicly accessable sites with streaming video.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:56 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]



"Where's London Calling?"


Can't seem to find parts 1+3 ... but here's the middle of something.
posted by philip-random at 9:35 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to watch this years ago and was pleased to a lot of the episodes on Netflix. Wish it was still going and covering works both newer and older. Loved the Transformer and Dark Side of the Moon episodes in particular.
posted by juiceCake at 3:52 PM on March 2, 2013


I'm so glad I checked this out because I see some things I need to watch on this list. Thank you!
posted by immlass at 4:05 PM on March 2, 2013


The only one of these I have NOT loved has been the one on Metallica, and I'm not sure if that's the series' fault or the band's. The Iron Maiden ep is great, as is the one on Black Sabbath (favorite part: Ozzie didn't know what to sing for Iron Man, so he just duplicates the guitar riff.)
posted by Wulfhere at 4:41 PM on March 2, 2013


The perfect deconstruction is Steely Dan's "Aja" show. Bonus for having Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on it. And the absolute craftsmanship of their sound.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:01 PM on March 2, 2013


There's also VH1's Ultimate Albums series, with 19 episodes planned, but only 15 episodes were aired, and I don't think any are commercially available. There are a few online: posted by filthy light thief at 7:37 PM on March 2, 2013


These are very neat, just watched the American Beauty on on Netflix and added all the rest that I could find to my queue.
posted by octothorpe at 10:24 AM on March 3, 2013


Seconding the Steely Dan "Aja" episode. Purdie's awesome, I'd never really heard of him before (though I've been hearing his work for years, apparently). Here's a clip from that episode feature Purdie, with Fagen telling the story of Purdie's 'two signs' toward the end.
posted by Bron at 3:37 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Wailers one is a real treat. Great interviews with the musicians, producers and engineers and early footage of Bob Marley & the Wailers. Thanks!
posted by wmoskowi at 8:50 PM on March 8, 2013


philip-random: "Where's London Calling?"

Can't seem to find parts 1+3 ... but here's the middle of something .


That's the middle of "Westway to the World," [full movie shown here] — a Grammy-award-winning documentary about the Clash.
posted by not_on_display at 10:08 PM on March 8, 2013


Good series. Like the episodes on The Band and Yellow Brick Road best. Would have killed for episodes on The Queen is Dead or Exile on Main Street.
posted by WhitenoisE at 3:35 AM on March 9, 2013


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