Y&T is still in decent rotation in my listening so I was very glad to the get Y&T documentary on DVD for my birthday.
The package itself is a little disappointing, it is not housed in a DVD case, it is a slim-line, digipak that holds two discs and no booklet. ON WITH THE SHOW was an in-house, independent production from the Y&T camp (Meanstreak Music) but it is of very high quality. The menus are clear and easy and it is simple to understand and navigate.
Disc One is the documentary of the same name. It runs about two hours and even then it could have been longer. Over the years I’ve seen many documentaries about bands or books about band that only focus on the ‘glory-era’, whatever that might have been for the band. Thankfully ON WITH THE SHOW avoids that crucial mistake and takes us from 1971 right up to 2019. It is a bit of a double-edged sword however. If a band such as Y&T that has been around 40+ years, how do you possibly chronicle all that? Even you if did, say, for example, a miniscule five minutes per year of screen time, the movie would still be over three house long! I know people don’t think along those lines but it is natural that certain eras are going to get more attention. Accordingly, and unfortunately perhaps the producers did have to skimp on detail over the era and albums like MUSICALLY INCORRECT (1991) and ENDANGERED SPECIES (1997). There were long periods of minimal activity and then they dive back into it in 2010 with FACEMELTER, more touring and they continue up to today.
There was certainly an element of sadness for me as a long time fan to watch the footage and realize that now three fourths of the classic line-up are dead. Speaking to that, this documentary must have been a work in progress for many years because there is plenty of screen time, recent interviews with Leonard Haze who died in 2016 and Joey Alves who died in 2017 and Producer Chris Tsangerides who died in 2018. We don’t get any current interview material with Phil Kennemore was passed in 2011. Using our powers of deduction, much of this was shot after 2012 and completed in 2019.
The documentary follows a standard chronological telling of the bands story, many interviews, video clips combined with lots and lots of archival footage, flyers, and photos. ON WITH THE SHOW is narrated by Eddie Trunk, which at first made me roll my eyes, because of his poor reputation, but in the end I had a little newfound respect for him. He did a decent job as narrator but when he was on-screen commenting, it seems like he knew what he was talking about and had some decent insight. What I found remarkable was how many people, famous rockers, were involved in saying nice things about the band. Members of bands like Anvil, Cinderella, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Mr. Big, Saxon, Tesla, Twisted Sister, Van Halen, and many more. The band doesn’t self-censor too much, the hard times and negatives were discussed but I think (perhaps naively) it is human nature to try to focus on the positive and for the most part it is a big feel good tribute to the band.
There are any number of producers, managers, roadies, fan-club folks, family members, promoters, agents and of course virtually every member of the band past and present were involved and interviewed. It is pretty extensive but never lags.
The movie itself is about two hours long. On Disc One there are eight Deleted Scenes, just little extras stories that didn’t make the final cut that total to about another 20 minutes. The ‘chicken prank’ on the Motley Crue in about 1985 was hilarious, I’m glad some of the footage survived.
Disc Two is loaded with more material, over another two hours worth. About half of the features are largely extended interviews with band members. There are a number of 10-minute features with titles (roughly) like ‘Why Y&T Never Made It’ or ‘The Influence of Y&T’ in which various contributors offer their theories, thoughts and opinions about the band. These are pretty rapid fire and it is quite impressive to observe the bands legacy. People like Eric Martin and Dee snider are true champions of the band. There was some discussion about if Y&T did or did not ‘make it’. The general consensus is that the band never ‘quite’ made it but a few people myself included feel they really DID make it. They were signed to not one, not two, but three different major label deals, wrote and recorded a dozen albums, toured Europe and America extensively, had hit singles that charted on Billboard, sold hundreds of thousands of albums, and had videos on MTV. By any reasonable measure, that is a successful band.
In 2020 with only one original member (Dave Meniketti) left it and a decade has passed since the last studio album, if this documentary is the last thing they ever do, they can be proud they went out on top.