Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry both talk candidly about Eno’s brief tenure in the band (he left before the third album), giving viewers valuable insight to the band’s politics of the time. The other members, especially drummer Paul Thompson, let on that Ferry may have feared being overshadowed by Eno, and Eno clearly indicates that they both had different musical directions they wished to take, but there don’t appear to be any deep-seated grudges on either side as the film also documents a historic recording session of new material by all of the original members including Eno in 2006.
The film follows a strictly chronological format from the band’s early days through their apparent end after the Avalon tour, using each album as a milestone. It also covers their reunions in the 2000s, nearly 20 years after their disbandment. Although their final original incarnation for the glossy, almost New Age Avalon album bears little resemblance to the gritty art rock sound they pioneered, their continuing evolvement throughout their career led to a passionate fanbase at each stage and clearly showed the strong direction of band founder Ferry. Clearmountain’s best sound bite comes when he reveals that he still gets far more compliments about Avalon than anything else he’s ever done, including Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. Regardless of which stage of the band you like the best, the film offers superb archival footage and new reminiscences that will expand your appreciation.