Eagle Vision [Release date 27.08.20]
In essence “Somebody Up There Likes Me” is a film telling the story of the remarkable career of Ronnie Wood, however, it is much more than that. In the film Wood says that in his head he never got past 29 and so now finds being 70 quite surreal, and if he could do it all again would approach life with his eyes more open- I would love to live his life as it is.
Raw, honest, and pulling no punches, this film is the roots and the stories of what makes Ronnie who he is. From the stories of his Dad’s troubles with drink, through the art school years of his brothers and his discovery of music and playing in bands. Wood is a risk taker, but hasn’t it paid off. He and I attended the same school and it is a shame he doesn’t mention this as I have long suspected that the ancient music teacher that I had was probably the same one that he had some 20 years earlier.
“Somebody Up There Likes Me” is a veritable treasure trove of rare live footage, interviews (new and archive with Peter Grant and Malcolm McLaren appearing in retrospect) and rock n roll tales. His time with first band The Birds, The Jeff Beck Group, The Faces, The Rolling Stones, and a long and often overlooked solo career, are all discussed here. You get to hear how Woody turned down joining Led Zep (when they were becoming The New Yardbirds), how he could have joined The Stones in 1969 but didn’t find that out until 5 years later (Faces’ bandmate Ronnie Lane apparently took the call and said he was happy in his current band) and how he joined The Stones- a band that he swore he would one day when he first saw them as far back as ‘63/’64.
When Ronnie Wood finally joined The Stones he almost breathed new life into the band, and he and Keith Richards really do work as one, and so well. Mick Jagger, Richards and Charlie Watts are all interviewed here and all speak about him lovingly, and with admiration, and throughout the lows Jagger in particular has never given up on him.
The Faces were a party band but that party did carry on for decades before Wood got clean and throughout the interviews he is frankly honest about his addictions and getting to where he is today.
Sobriety has clearly left him more creative and “Somebody Up There Likes Me” showcases not only Wood’s well-known musicianship but also his amazing talent for art. One highlight here is Damien Hirst, a friend who helped him through rehab, talking to him about art while he’s painting, and this is a great interaction to watch, as are the acoustic musical interludes that appear throughout the film.
Other interviews include Mick Jagger talking about getting into music, Imelda May, Rod Stewart and Ronnie’s his wife Sally.
The film was directed by Mike Figgis and was originally shown at the BFI London Film Festival last year and at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, to great reviews. It was also recently shown on Sky Arts, however this BluRay and DVD release features additional performances from Ronnie, plus extra features. The deluxe hardback book edition includes both the DVD and BluRay alongside 40 pages of pictures and paintings that are exclusive to this release, alongside an essay from Paul Sexton.
“Somebody Up There Likes Me” is a great tribute to the story of one of rock music’s true characters. *****
Review by Nikk Gunns
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