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The Independent Critic

The Ventures, Billy Bob Thornton, Marky Ramone, Eric Roberts, Lalo Schifrin, Jimmy Page, John Fogerty, Waddy Wachtel, Randy Bachman, Josie Cotton, Mark Farner, The Surfrajettes, The Neptunas
Staci Layne Wilson
89 Mins.
Vision Films

 Vision Films Releases "The Ventures: Stars on Guitars"  

Just like the music of The Ventures, you'd be hard-pressed to not enjoy this fun, free-spirited feature-length documentary about this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member band that was more popular than The Beatles in Japan and continues to be the #1 bestselling instrumental group of all-time. 

You may not recognize the name, but I guarantee you'd recognize the music. 

Directed by Staci Layne Wilson, daughter of The Ventures founding member Don Wilson, The Ventures: Stars on Guitars is a fun and festive documentary featuring an abundance of their music and a myriad of stars talking about their love for this band including Billy Bob Thornton, Marky Ramone, John Fogerty, Mark Farner, Jimmy Page, Wayne Kramer, The Surfrajettes, The Neptunas, and a whole lot more. 

Celebrating their 60th year in music, The Ventures experienced wide-release fame with their first single "Walk, Don't Run" and 38 albums chart in the U.S. in the 1960's and 1970's. 14 singles also hit the Billboard Hot 100. While their U.S. fame waned after the 70's, they continue to be popular in Japan where they tour to this day and have sold over 100 million records to date. 

Wilson himself is the lone surviving original member of the band. While he continues to record with The Ventures, he stopped touring in 2015. The Ventures were also pioneers of the use of special effects in music and even an instructional album they released for guitar landed in Billboard's Top 100 and their influence has been acknowledged by the likes of Fogerty, Joe Walsh, Carl Wilson, George Harrison, Stephen Stills, and even Gene Simmons. 

The Ventures: Stars on Guitars keeps it festive throughout, Wilson infusing the film with an abundance of music and creative animation to companion the film's interviews and testimonies. Nina Helene Hirten's animation is an absolute delight and additional music by Michael Trapp goes nicely with Wilson's obvious access to The Ventures' catalogue. 

For the most part, The Ventures: Stars on Guitars is a rather straightforward doc that will delight fans and possibly win a few new ones. While there's no major revelations here beyond a few tricks of the trade, this first-ever feature-length doc for the groundbreaking band is fiercely entertaining and a must-see for rock and roll fans and devotees of music history. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic