Sunday, 31 January 2016

Turn It Up! A Celebration Of The Electric Guitar Documentary Review


For those of us in the music world, we know that this time of year is NAMM time. Which for those who aren’t aware, it’s a bunch of instrument developers who all get together to show off their new toys, so what a better way to celebrate the magnificent guitar section of that crowd with a documentary about the history of the electric guitar. 

`Turn It Up’ is narrated by none other than EE and `Footloose’ wonderment Kevin Bacon and was filmed over the course of 8 years and as we all know 8 years is a long time in rock n roll. 

Turn It Up, details the history of the electric guitar from the Rickenbacker Frying Pan guitar and yes it was an actual frying pan, through to the birth of the Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul. The documentary also dives into the guitar war between the giants of the guitar world that being Gibson and Fender, which is definitely raging on today albeit with a tonne more brands added to the pot. 

What this documentary does extremely well is take what is a complex history of how the electric guitar was born and how it developed but it simplifies it, although this doesn’t mean it oversimplifies and turns away anything but beginners. An added touch that is heavily utilized is the player interviews, whether that’s a rock star like Slash or blues legend B.B. King chatting about how they got turned onto the guitar and how it still drives them as a person. It also goes into the everyday player, those of us that sit on the couch in front of a terrified pet or family member holding their ears or running in panic and asks why the guitar is so significant in their lives.

It lovingly talks to players about their own experiences with the guitar in that quest to find the ultimate personal tone. The players themselves detail just what the guitar means to them with some of the best explanations are `You can’t hug a Steinway’, they all say that it’s romantic, the feel and shape of a guitar is a thing of beauty and has helped them through some tough times and continues to a be a source of inspiration. 

The biggest issue although it’s one that I feel could be addressed on a new documentary is the more modern aspects of the electric guitar, checking out some of the newer companies and shapes, plus looking into NAMM (just a thought).

So overall is it worth your money? 
Honestly I believe it is. Now, to sum it all up, this documentary is pretty much your basic history of the electric guitar with added interviews with some of the best known guitar slingers in the business ala Slash, B.B. King (RIP), Jerry Cantrell to name but a few but where this one does differ from checking out rock stars is it shows us more regular ladies and gentlemen who don’t play to 20,000 people at a gig but just to a family who cover their ears to avoid being totally deafened by the wailing noise. My only issue with the documentary is it really only centres on Fender and Gibson’s, yes these are the two biggest names but developing this to include newer names but I digress, it’s the centring of much of the documentary on the vintage guitar market, yes it would be nice to discover a 59 Les Paul stashed away in the attic, worth 400,000 dollars but doubt that. Perhaps, they should do an extra episode all most on the newer companies and the future of guitars. 

From Rockstars to CEO’s to the regular Joe, it doesn’t matter, what matters is the passion, the passion for the guitar, the passion to keep playing and to defy the expectations of what society believes a CEO of Southwest Airlines should be doing with his free time or a construction worker. Turn It Up and Turn It Up fucking loud. 

8.5/10- A well worthy documentary for all of those with the passion for our stringed lovers. 

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