I’m going to state my biases right from the start. I am a huge fan of Voodoo Rhythm Records and the bands on the label. In fact, I have a tattoo of some artwork taken from a press release I received from The Monsters (one of Voodoo’s swamp rock bands) a few years back. To me, this foreign music (most of it originates from Switzerland) is American music done better than our bands do it. It ranges from Cajun to country, from swamp rock to funeral orchestra — and it’s all magical and very primitive. I kind of figured I’d enjoy this documentary before I even saw it, and I figured right.
The film looks at the bands on the label and its founder, Reverend Beat Man. It’s long been my assertion that the good Reverend and the Voodoo bands must all be a little insane, and this documentary proved me right. They’re all a little touched … but in a good way. They love music, and they see what they do as an outlet that is far more productive than beating up people.
Reverend Beat Man started the label for music that doesn’t have a home anywhere else. Bands such as The Dead Brothers and King Khan (the latter day Screamin’ Jay Hawkins) make music that isn’t done much anymore, but they found their place here, and even though all the music sounds different, it fits together in some weird witch’s brew that almost defies description. The music is so eclectic and unique, however, that it does the film a disservice.
The biggest problem with this movie is that it will isolate anyone who doesn’t like the various styles of music presented here. If you’ve never heard of the label or any of the bands before, there’s a simple test to tell you whether or not it’s up your alley and worth your time. Does your music collection have The Cramps, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and the soundtrack to any of David Lynch’s films in it? If so, you need to check out this documentary and get introduced to some of the best bands you’ve never heard. If not, keep listening to Blink-182 and calling yourself cutting edge. Five years from now, though, you’ll discover this stuff and wonder what the Hell took you so long.