I pretty much dare anyone who likes guitars and/or guitar-based rock and blues to not like music documentary It Might Get Loud. As the weather closes in, and staying at home seems preferable to going out in the cold wind and rain, you could do worse than plug in this new DVD.

Look, fair warning, it’s inevitably a bit of a w-nk, but less so than you might think.

The idea behind the movie was to get three generations of guitarists together to talk about their playing, their influences and their lives.

The three are Jimmy Page from Led Zep, the Edge from U2, and Jack White late of the White Stripes, currently touring with Dead Weather. They are gathered together in a warehouse, sitting on a living room set surrounded by guitars and amps, and the action cuts between them chatting and playing and footage of their careers. Interspersed are solo interviews, generally done as they wander through houses or studios where they record, or even as they record.

The net effect is a collage of information and music, chat and playing, that comes together into a coherent whole by the simple expedient of following each guitarist’s artistic development, from first guitar to successful career.

What I really loved was that you keep getting these snatches of great music — Son House doing Grinnin’ In Your Face; Link Wray doing Rumble; Page live soloing on Stairway to name three of the best — so it’s like flicking between really awesome radio stations.

I guess the weak point is that there isn’t actually a lot of musical interaction between the three of them. In fact, the only full song they do together is The Weight and it isn’t all that inspiring: just three guys sitting down and playing a pretty basic song and not singing it very well. Could (almost) be you and me.

Somehow though, it doesn’t matter. The rest makes up for it, and there is some truly fab archival footage, especially of Page.

A couple of highlights. At one point they jam briefly together over Zep’s In My Time of Dying and it is really revealing. The Edge simply lacks the blues chops to fit in properly. Not necessarily a criticism, but interesting. At another point, Page plays air guitar over the Link Wray song mentioned above and it’s a nice glimpse of how even guitar heroes have heroes.

But my favourite bit was where White and Edge are watching Page play Whole Lotta Love. Until then, White in particular had been playing it very cool, being studiously underwhelmed about whose company he is keeping, but both of them suddenly get these grins on their faces and it’s like they can’t believe this is happening, just like any other fanboys would.

This is a well thought out and presented documentary with high production values. If you like any of the three guys (or their bands), I don’t think it will disappoint.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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