The names read like a veritable Who’s Who of 80’s music. Gary Numan. Stewart Copeland (“The Police”). Tony Hadley (“Spandau Ballet”). Jerry Casale (“DEVO”). Anabella Irwin (Bow Wow Wow”). It is from these and other surprisingly interesting and informative interviews that director Aaron Barnett turns a personal quest — meeting reclusive former rock idol Roger Taylor of “Duran Duran” — into a remarkable musical retrospective encompassing the entire decade of the 80’s. Long dismissed as a sort of musical black hole, lost between the “Classic Rock” of the 70’s and the Grunge/Alternative movement of the 90’s, the 80’s are here restored to all their fashion-conscious glory.
“Searching…” explains the sometimes tortured evolution of New Wave; how such British glamrock bands as “Duran Duran” and their American counterparts in the New Romantic movement sprouted from the crass anarchy of the punk movement. It chronicles how, fueled by the nascent and, at the time oft-ridiculed promotional device known as the “music video,” these bands in some cases literally went on to overnight stardom, only to crash in a flaming pile of indifference and changing musical tastes. The best part about this film was getting to see clips from some classic music videos I haven’t seen since the embryonic days of “Night Tracks.” Most of the musicians are surprisingly eloquent in recalling their salad days. The film treads water, however, when it conveys their scathing opinions about the corporate culture pervading today’s music industry. Though few will disagree with these veterans’ commentaries, the film too easily de-evolves into a has-been bitch session.
“Searching for Roger Taylor” makes it easy for old classic rockers such as myself to gain a whole new appreciation for the music that marked our post-high school years, as well as for the pioneers we wanted on our MTV. Even the ever-reclusive Mr. Taylor himself.