As far as music documentaries go, Voodoo Rhythm: The Gospel of Primitive Rock ‘n’ Roll is one of those that must be watched before you die if you like music that is outside the norm. It did something that music documentaries often fail at: it gave me new insight into its subject matter. More on that further in.
I reviewed this film for Film Threat some time ago, and interviewed the director, M.A. Littler, about it on the same site for my Excess Hollywood column. That’s how much I enjoyed the film. I did not say it was without its faults (namely that it could isolate those who don’t like the types of music the Voodoo Rhythm record label provides), and I stand by that assertion. To let something like that keep you away from it is a crime, however, especially if you consider yourself open-minded when it comes to music.
For some history, Voodoo Rhythm is out of Switzerland and puts out the most eclectic sounds you could imagine. One man bands. Swamp rock. Pure rock ‘n’ roll. Funeral music. Blues. Zydeco. Country. Many of the genres are primarily considered American, but most of the bands on the label aren’t from America. Because of that, you get an almost magical take on the music … something that has been lost by a lot of our bands over here, and this film documents just what makes these bands and Voodoo Rhythm special.
Littler took a small label with not enough followers, and captured its spirit on film. When I saw this feature, I was already a fan of these acts and the label, but I knew little about either or the man behind the label, Reverend Beat Man. Voodoo Rhythm helped change that. If anything, Littler helped make me an even bigger fan. I don’t know if I can say that about any other music documentary, as those are rarely filled with new information for fans. Perhaps you’ll find out that your favorite singer has a love of toast or something, but for the most part you know all the key points because you’ve learned about them elsewhere. Voodoo Rhythm, on the other hand, had very little written about it in America other than some reviews. Until this documentary, all my info came from Beat Man in e-mails or his bombastic press releases. This film opened up the story, and that’s why it is one of my favorite films of all time.
Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I did receive this film for review many moons ago. If you click on a link, I may earn some cash.