Keith Richards: Under the Influence
Possibly more than any other musician, Keith Richards is considered the embodiment of rock ‘n’ roll. He’s an infamous wild man consuming more drugs and wild times than probably anyone in his 50 years, he’s the lead guitarist of one of if not the greatest rock bands in history playing as many shows as anyone, and somehow through it all, he’s still in one piece. Even if he appears like an old drunk Jack Sparrow.
The latest documentary on Keith is Netflix’s Under the Influence, which has Keith reminiscing about his life while recording his new solo album Crosseyed Heart, which is a return to his roots. While there is certainly a place for an interesting Keith documentary to be made (he’s arguably one of the most interesting characters in the world), this is not it, as it’s more of a cheap promo for his new album and a brown-nosing take on how Keith is the greatest, rather than a fair and holistic look at his life.
The primary spokesman in Keith’s documentary is Keith himself, who talks heavily about the blues and country and his heroes (even talking with Buddy Guy in the documentary), his new record, and his glory days with the Rolling Stones. Other key contributors include Steve Jordan, notable drummer and producer who is producing Keith’s latest record, as well as Tom Waits, who has a few tremendously interesting things to say about Keith. It would have been nice to hear from a few more voices and a little less of gargling Keith talking about how great he is.
There is also not much interesting said here about Keith. He obviously points to how huge the blues and country was for him growing up, but very little else is released. I suppose you could always just read one of the many Rolling Stones and Keith biographies for a better profile of the man, but you would hope the documentary would provide at least a window into who he is.
Like many music documentaries, the best and most redeeming reason to watch Under the Influence is the vintage footage. There are some incredible videos of the Stones when they first invaded and performed on American television, some cool Howling Wolf and Buddy Guy footage, and even some fun footage of the Rolling Stones just out and about. But really beyond a few fun clips, there just isn’t much here.
So while Netflix has certainly become an incredible destination for documentaries, this one is certainly worth bypassing. There is nothing egregious or offensively bad here, just a lack of any new or interesting insight.