February 4, 2019

BAND VS. BRAND: What's in a Name?

Featuring David Ellefson, Jack Russell, Nik Turner, Dave Lombardo, Nicky Garrett, Frank Dimino, Marc Ferrari, Jean Beauvoir, Mike Varney, Gus G., Adam Parsons. Directed by Bob Nalbanian. (2018/92 min).


Review by Fluffy the Fearless😸

I'll bet most of you reading this know who Iron Maiden is. Many of you may also be familiar with the band's emblematic logo and iconic mascot, Eddie, both of which have graced every single album cover since 1980, not to mention hundred-of-thousands of black t-shirts. But I'll bet almost none of you can name a single band member.

Such is the power of a brand name.

Band vs. Brand is an interesting new documentary about the importance - and profitability - of establishing music artists as a brand name, especially in this era when most can't make a living through music sales alone. Which is why aging bands with only one - or zero - original members can still pack concert venues with casual fans who don't know any better (and just want to hear the songs). Or in the case of the late Ronnie James Dio, former bandmates can tour behind a holographic image of their former employer (which is creepy as hell, if you ask me). Or how tribute bands can make a healthy living doing spot-on impressions of classic line-ups.

There's no such thing as too many records.
Based on those interviewed, the increased emphasis on brand names over the individuals involved appears especially prevalent in hard rock & heavy metal. Is this practice a cash grab? Perhaps, as a few industry figures suggest. Others - mostly artists whose glory days are behind them - defend their decisions to keep plugging away with a variety of hired guns. The film itself doesn't condemn or condone any of its subjects, wisely letting them state their case and letting the viewer judge for themselves.

Fittingly, there isn't a hell of a lot of actual music, though there are a few brief concert clips of some legendary artists. Ultimately, Band vs. Brand isn't about music, anyway. It's about how some have learned to adapt to the current state of the business with little more than a few old hits and a brand name behind them. In most cases, their story is more interesting than their music ever was.

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