It Might Get Loud

I like all kinds of music, but I’d have to say that rock ‘n’ roll is my favourite and particularly any kind that makes prominent use of the electric guitar. Earlier in the week, I watched a brilliant documentary that focuses on three different generations of guitar players from three different backgrounds. The three are Jimmy Page from England, Jack White from America and The Edge from Ireland. The film follows them as they tinker around in their own studios and each one takes us back to their humble beginnings, their first forays into music and the songs and musicians that influenced them. The film opens on Jack White as we watch him make his own guitar from bits of string, pieces of wood and a few nails. The Edge also reveals that he and his brother both built their own guitar in their early teen years in Dublin. Jimmy Page started playing in skiffle bands and went on to become a session musician before finding initial success with The Yardbirds and later with Led Zeppelin. Instead of focusing on one musician at a time, we move from Jack to Jimmy to the Edge and back again throughout. This approach highlights the differences between the three and also their similarities. White and Page found a lot of their inspiration in the blues, while the Edge was more influenced by punk rock and new wave. Nevertheless, they built on the simple sounds offered by blues and punk to create more interesting and complex soundscapes

White is the youngest and possibly the least innovative and accomplished of the three, yet he prefers to eschew modern recording techniques. In contrast, the Edge uses numerous effects and pedals to try to capture the sound he hears in his head. We also get to see the three musicians talking and jamming together on U2’s I Will Follow and The White Stripes’ Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground. One of the highlights for me was when Page played the opening riff of Whole Lotta Love and White and the Edge both watched and listened to him playing with looks of complete reverence on their faces. Other highlights included following the Edge as he takes us back to the Dublin school where U2 first rehearsed and performed and an intimate session by the White Stripes in front of a group of attentive Chelsea pensioners. The film is directed by Davis Guggenheim, who won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for An Inconvenient Truth in 2007. To be frank, I felt that film was just an extended PowerPoint presentation as well as being a bit sensationalist. Fortunately, It Might Get Loud is a very well-structured and riveting film about the guitar and three of its most skillful and innovative players. Here’s a trio of songs featuring their guitar skills along with the talents of their respective bands

Rock And Roll – Led Zeppelin

Beat On The Brat (Ramones cover) – U2

Sitting on Top of the World (Mississippi Sheiks cover) – Jack White

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5 thoughts on “It Might Get Loud

  1. Christ; The Edge. I just think he’s crap. He’s the least exciting guitar player in the world, and somehow gets to be called “The Edge”. That is such a joke.

    Sorry. I just have a strong opinion on this!

    • I can understand where you’re coming from, Neil. The Edge is a pretty ordinary guitarist, but I think the way he has made his sound seem more expansive through the use of effects is what makes him so influential. I agree that there are tons of guitarists who are better players than he is

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