I remember a discussion with a colleague, years ago, during Toronto’s Hot Docs festival. We were fretting over giving bad reviews to documentaries. It felt like we were saying: Your topic is boring!
So, to be clear, Rockfield, the working livestock farm and recording studio in the Welsh countryside, is not a boring topic. It’s a fascinating part of musical history, hosting rock royalty that included (one per decade since the ’70s to keep the list short) Black Sabbath, Iggy Pop, Oasis, Simple Minds and The Proclaimers.
But Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm, from documentary filmmaker Hannah Berryman, is an underwhelming walk through that history. Sure, we get some great behind-the-scenes stories, like the corridor with a toilet at one end that created such a great sound that a microphone would often be placed just outside the loo. Or co-founder Kingsley Ward remembering the time he walked in on Freddie Mercury putting the finishing touches on Bohemian Rhapsody.
But it feels a bit too sanitized, shying away from the bad blood (or was there even any?) between the brothers who started the studio, and leaving unanswered the question of why so few female performers recorded there. It’s a great introduction to this unprepossessing musical mecca, but it feels like the definitive Rockfield doc has yet to be made.
Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm is available June 1 on demand.
2 stars out of 5