Published Sep 17, 2015For decades now, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has been portrayed in the media as some sort of whiskey-swigging, drug-addled, out-of-control axe man. Reports of him snorting his father's ashes and getting concussed after falling from a coconut tree definitely don't help matters, but in reality, the modern-day blues legend is one of the most articulate and thoughtful rock'n'roll artists around.
Academy Award-winning director Morgan Neville's new film, Keith Richards: Under the Influence, is a pretty straightforward doc: it follows Richards as he's in the studio recording his first solo album in over two decades, Crosseyed Heart (due out September 18, the same day as the film's Netflix release), and provides a track-by-track breakdown of each song on the album, discussing its influences with Richards (hence the title) and using them as a springboard to delve into his personal history.
If it sounds like one big promotional piece, that's because it kind of is. Neville was originally hired on to create a short film with Richards discussing the album to promote the record, but it ballooned into a feature-length project after he spent more personal time with the guitarist.
Those who've read Richards' 564-page 2010 memoir Life won't really find any new information here that doesn't involve the forthcoming album (save for a few choice recordings tips regarding the guitar production on "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Street Fighting Man"). Instead, as Neville described in a recent interview with Billboard, the film operates as more of a "scrapbook" than a "tightly knit story," and essentially feels like you're spending an afternoon thumbing through his photo albums and record collection. A full picture is never quite revealed, but compared to other music memoirs and documentaries, Keith Richards: Under the Influence feels a hell of a lot more natural, personal and meaningful.