Music Doc Triple Feature: True History Of The Traveling Wilburys (2007), Concert For George (2003) & Anvil! The Story Of Anvil (2008)

I watched these three movies over a pretty spread-out period of time, but I figured they’d make a good trio seeing as how two the first two are directly related and the most recent reminded me of the other two. First off, I want to talk about a 25 minute documentary on The Traveling Wilburys that came with the self-titled three disc set that includes the band’s two CDs and a DVD with the doc and some music videos. The Wilburys were a supergroup in the late 80s consisting of Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne (I’ll do a Supergroup Showcase about them soon). I’d always heard about them, but never really heard them, so once this set came out, I asked for it for Christmas and got it, but I didn’t actually watch the included DVD until a few months back.

The film covers a recording session and what makes it so interesting is seeing how much these musical giants just hanging out in a house, playing guitars, singing songs and having a helluva good time while doing it. We–or at least I–tend to deify guys like this, they are incredible musicians and some of the most important people in rock, but this movie shows them as just regular people and I dig that. Regular people writing a song a day and making an album of it. The just sounds fun to me. Even more fun because of who’s involved and some of the interesting things they did like drumming on the refrigerator and recording that! I’d definitely watch a longer version of this doc.

Soon after the first Traveling Wilbury’s record, Roy Orbison passed away. Many years later, George Harrison died leaving a final album called Brainwashed unfinished. His son Dhani and friend Jeff Lynne came in and finished the record and I have to say it’s amazing. One year after his passing, a small army of musicians got together to celebrate Harrison’s life. The concert, which was filmed and called A Concert For George, is split into a few parts. The first section is a very moving and intense series of performances by Ravi Shankar’s daughter Anoushka and an Indian orchestra. This isn’t the kind of music I usually search out, but it was beautiful.

Between this group of performances and the next more mainstream set, the surviving members of Monty Python came out to do “Sit On My Face” and then “The Lumberjack Song” which apparently also included Tom Hanks, but I completely missed that and only read it later. The remaining set consists of performances by Eric Clapton, Dhani Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Gary Brooker, Joe Brown, Sam Brown, Jools Holland, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Preston, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and others on their own and together. I’m a sucker for these kinds of team-ups in the musical world and can’t think of a better reason to have one than to celebrate such a great musician’s life. It’s too bad that Bob Dylan couldn’t be there for a reunion of the surviving Wilburys, but that would have been amazing.

From the celebration of one of the greatest and most successful musicians in the world, to a look at some of the most obscure. Anvil! The Story Of Anvil is a documentary following the trials and tribulations of a Canadian heavy metal rock band called Anvil who were supposedly a big deal on the scene back in the day. I’ll be honest, I’m not 100% sure this whole thing isn’t a hoax. I’m no expert when it comes to heavy metal by any means, but I’ve read enough issues of Guitar World in my time to feel like I have a fairly good grasp on the scene and I’ve never heard of them. The movie starts off with some pretty big deal metal musicians like Slash, Lemmy, Scott Ian and Lars Ulrich singing Anvil’s praises. It just felt a little off. Then, they reveal that one of the two original band members’ names is Robb Reiner which sounds and awful lot like the name of the director who did This Is Spinal Tap. From what I can tell, the movie is all real, but I still had a big question mark in my head the whole time which takes away from things a bit.

The rest of the movie shows how shitty things are for the guys in Anvil. They’re working crap jobs in Canada, doing tours of Europe where they don’t really get paid any money and everything goes wrong and struggle to create quality music with nearly no budget. If you’ve seen American Movie, you’ve seen the basic premise of this movie, but this one has heavy metal and that one has movies. Which isn’t to say Anvil isn’t a good movie. If it is real, it definitely captures the general hopelessness that these dudes are surrounded by at all time and refuse to give in to, which is incredibly admirable. Plus, watching the movie made me want to listen to some more metal. Anyone got any suggestions?

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5 thoughts on “Music Doc Triple Feature: True History Of The Traveling Wilburys (2007), Concert For George (2003) & Anvil! The Story Of Anvil (2008)

  1. I’m from Toronto and this doc isn’t a put on. Anvil is a real band that had a following of sorts back in the day. This film has got them back on the road again.

    1. I believe you guys, there’s just something about the way the documentary is presented in the beginning that feels off you know? Good for those dudes for getting another shot at things.

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