The line from the op-ed by Jessica Hopper the director is spot on
It has been 70 years since Big Mama Thornton put Hound Dog on the American charts, yet the primacy of women’s roles in popular music is still woefully underchronicled and undercredited, ever-shadowed by Great Man legacies that blot out women’s innovation. Perpetual outsiders, women are somehow forever arriving, forever an insurgent force, rather than rightly credited as totemic figures who shaped every facet of rock, blues, soul, country, jazz, the avant garde, hip-hop, disco, punk, new wave and whatever you’re likely listening to now.
I’ll download this and will watch it over the week.
I saw mixed reviews and without having seen any of it, I would definitely agree that 4 x 1 hour episodes is pretty short to say the least.
Punk Singer is probably the best music documentary about one artist.
There’s a great one on Joan Jett called Bad Reputation where even Nikki Haley makes an appearance.
A Suzi Quatro documentary might not be on many people’s watchlists but it should be. Another well put together piece which also inevitably covers sexism then and now.
Has one clip where Michael Parkinson slaps Suzi Quatro’s bottom as she’s about to take a seat for her interview. You see Suzi Quatro shocked face but was unable to say or do anything about it. Horrible.
Saw the first episode. Over three decades sped through in about 45 minutes is clearly not enough but I’m guessing it’s because a four parter was all that was available to be commissioned. A 10 parter would have been preferred obviously.
Nonetheless, the director and editor do a pretty good job for the 45 minutes with excellent and varied contributors. Chaka Khan’s segments were great but inevitably and unfortunately dark in what she was subjected to and quite rightly Mavis Staples gets the longest time with her segments. I saw her live on holiday at NYC in 2019 and she was amazingly warm as she was on the documentary.
This first part definitely did its job and my homework for the next week or two is to listen to songs and albums by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Ida Cox, Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton none of who I’d heard of before. Looking forward to my homework.
Saw the second one. Again moves at pace across the 70s and early 80s and crams in as many bands as it possibly could. The episode ends with the starting of MTV.
Tina Weymouth and Joan Jett as contributers probably got the most coverage for their bands but that wasn’t much either unfortunately.
I’ve never been a huge fan of The Go-Gos who were slightly featured here but a documentary of their’s a few years ago was excellent. Liked their “story” and how that doc was put together. Another recommendation for anyone who is or isn’t a fan of them.
Wendy Carlos’ synthesiser work was mentioned and another mental nudge for me to stop watching too many shit films and finally check out Sisters With Transistors. More welcome homework.
Pat Benatar contributes and features for the first ¼ of the programme and she’s more badass than I thought and moves the episode into showing what a game changer MTV was…and unfortunately turbo charging the importance of the image rather than the talent.
I knew the “pub quiz” question of what was the first song played on MTV but didn’t know Pat Benatar’s “You Better Run” was the second music video ever played on the channel.
Mentions rap and hip hop at quick pace and goes to Riot Grrrl bands but there’s The Punk Singer for that era.
Inevitable, obvious and deserving mentions of Sheryl Crow, Tori Amos and Alanis Morrisette (the former two contribute here too).
This episode was ok. Unfortunately didn’t go into any territory or insights I didn’t know or wasn’t aware of but enjoyed it as its time period was during my childhood to me being a teenager.
The fourth and final episode goes from the 90s to the present.
Shania Twain gets around 10 minutes as a main contributer throughout. Has a good segment on MySpace and Spotify too. Beyoncé quite rightly gets the respect for being an all time powerhouse of the industry.
Unfortunately as with all the previous episodes it moves all way too fast. I’ll give the series 7/10. It’s as good as it could be due to its time/length constriction.
A 10 × 1hr series would have to be an absolute minimum with a title like that but I guessing inevitable sexism in both the film making and music industry meant that only a four parter was available to be made.