Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Music Documentary Review - VH1's F Sharp Minor: Behind the Music

Next week, VH1 will broadcast their long-awaited music documentary, F Sharp Minor: Behind the Music. It spans the more than fifty years that the chord has been in the music industry, and features interviews with musicians, colleagues and friends of the popular artist, as well as F Sharp Minor himself. I was granted a sneak peek at the program after befriending a gullible cameraman.

To convey the wealth and scope of F Sharp Minor’s career is a daunting task, but one which the documentary’s makers have succeeding in doing. Archive footage shows early appearances by the chord in songs by skiffle band Ernie and the Milkmen, though one would be hard pressed to recognise the chord we all know and love today. F Sharp Minor talks at length about the difficulty he faced in those early days, and the hardships he suffered from living in the shadow of his elder – and more commonly used - brother, F Sharp. It is here that we see a far more raw, human side of the chord, as he thanks the God of Music that he didn’t suffer the same fate as B Suspended 7, a chord who disappeared in the late 1950s and hasn’t been seen since.

Famous fans of F Sharp Minor are interviewed, including such long-time collaborators as Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Brian Wilson. And while the documentary could have descended into a sycophantic love-in, dissenting voices are also given some airtime, including that of Keith Richards. The Rolling Stones guitarist still feels resentment towards F Sharp Minor after the chord was heard on the Beatles’ Revolver album at a time when he had promised Richards his exclusive use. Lou Reed also talks disparagingly of the chord, something that F Sharp Minor puts down to “a misunderstanding over some stolen ham.”

Witnessing the development of F Sharp Minor as an artist over the years is a treat, and from his tripped-out psychedelic days of the sixties to his reverence at the hands of late-90s Britpop artists like Oasis and Blur, VH1 show us the story of a chord who has moved with the times in a way few other collections of notes have.

My one complaint with the documentary, however, is the glossing over of several more embarrassing moments in F Sharp Minor’s career. A collaboration with Kriss Kross in 1991 is mentioned, but nothing more is said. Several appearances on Tatu’s 2002 album 200 Km/h in the Wrong Lane are also alluded to, but we are told no more. The chord’s unfortunate arrest in 1973 for transporting a minor over state lines is sadly absent from the film.

Such omissions notwithstanding, VH1 have put together a thoroughly enjoyable look into the life and career of one of rock’s greatest chords, and they are to be commended. I look forward to seeing their forthcoming documentary, Eight Bar Drum Intro: Behind the Music.

F Sharp Minor: Behind the Music will be shown at 8:00 on VH1 on Wednesday week. It’s on at the same time as Lost, so you might want to record it and watch it later.


Falwless said...

I've missed you dearly.

You know, to be serious for a second, you are creative as all hell. And we both know all hell is pretty much the pinnacle of creative genius. Seriously, a Behind the Music of F Sharp minor? *shaking head* Unbelievably fantastic idea. Love it.

P.S. Never leave again.

p0nk said...

i've followed a lot of Rock'n'Roll over the many years, and i was always disappointed at the complacency of F Sharp minor in settling for 'special guest' status for nearly every major artist at one time or another and yet never make significant steps toward a successful solo career.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Fal: I'll try to stay where I am. Thanks for the comments; some of my ideas are accompanied by a feeling of utter glee at how good they are.

I've actually rewritten this article extensively as a comparative review between the F Sharp Minor doc and Biography: The 8-Bar Drum Intro and The E! True Hollywood Story: The Baby/Crazy Rhyming Couplet. I'm trying to sell it to some highfalutin' magazine...

Ponk: I think F Sharp Minor was wary of suffering the same fate as G Major. Who could forget the dull, repetitive solo album he released in 1969? Terribly self-indulgent nonsense. Awful. All the songs sounded the same.

BeckEye said...

It's about time. I'm so sick of hearing about that publicity whore, C major.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Beckeye: God, yeah. What a sellout. Have you heard his totally unneccesary cover of All I wanna Do? Totally awful.

Anonymous said...

And if I remember correctly, didn't a guitar chord tuner get involved in a three-way relationship with E Flat Minor Flattened Fifth and B Flat Seventh Suspended Fourth? Messy and painful for all involved.

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