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Athens, GA Inside Out DVD

Review by Gary Hill

If I had to come up with the slogan for this video, it would be "Come for REM and the B-52s, stay for the whole scene and the other bands." This documentary really tells so much of the story of the Athens, Georgia scene from which those two bands sprung. It is obvious from watching this, that the scene was so much larger than those two acts. It's also obvious that while the range of sounds represented by those two is only part of the spectrum present in the music world of Athens at the time.

I suppose it's important to bring up the whole idea of "scenes" here. When a band or two from a particular town break into the limelight in a big way, it often focuses a bright light on the scene of that town. And, I should say that I think any town of a decent size has a scene.

A lot of times, though, all the focus is on the music of that scene. Truth be told, I have always believed that culture in a given area is all tied together, with varying pieces inspiring others. That includes all the arts, but also the local food scene, local indie stores and all the fans and consumers of those things. It all ties together in a weird way.

Additionally, the focus many times is on the musicians that play the same kind of thing that the band or bands that broke play. Musicians that don't fit that picture can be forgotten. Does anyone really believe that there were only grunge bands in Seattle when Nirvana broke out? Of course that's not true. The other music just didn't get as much attention, but it was literally all part of the same scene.

With that out of the way, here's what I think this documentary does very well. It focuses on the whole scene, even including visual arts, restaurants and more. I'm sure when it comes to music that there are artists that are missed, they really made a great effort at capturing a wide range of success levels and musical styles in covering the acts.

I literally was mostly drawn to this by my love of The B-52s, but I was impressed by a lot of the other bands here. I should add that while I went through an REM phase, I was never a huge fan, and have sort of dismissed them over the years since. This video rekindling my admiration for them, too.

Be prepared to get immersed in a place and time. You'll learn new things while seeing new aspects of familiar ones. This is an excellent documentary of an important scene. I think that probably most scenes have their charms and their magic. It's a shame that many of them will never been seen outside the local area, but we should appreciate the ones that do get the spotlight. This documentary does such a great job of showing off that particular and important era of the Athens, Georgia scene.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2023  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at:


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