Here is an interesting premise, although for the BEEB perhaps it reeks of scraping the barrel and the much feared dumbing down. This short film tries to seek out what the ‘riff’ is and which ones have shaped the history of guitar music from the 1960s to the 21st Century. Although BBC6 may never run out of fodder for their music documentaries the validity of this one-hour programme is quite reasonably up for question.
There are some classic tunes and although pretty standard observations as to how they came about - bringing them together under the banner of the much revered ‘riff’ adds another dynamic. All such documentaries of course need to be selective and ultimately are the opinion of someone specific - but a lack of acknowledgement to other repeated music references or refrains is criminal. No Troggs ‘Wild Thing’, No Keith Richards, who’s very nickname is the Human Riff. Ultimately too many omissions even for a 1-hour programme. This is just one of the many potential synovial links that bind the popular music explosion of the 1950s and 1960s to the modern day example of The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’. And in true popularist style it completely overlooked the nuanced and complicated story of Jazz, or even more specifically Scott Joplin’s Entertainer - now some 120 years old. Suffice to say, as less a review and more an opine, my road map would have been very different.