(CNN) -- Music: it's an essential part of a director's armory, providing an aural canvas that enhances and underlines the visual effects on-screen.
"Don't Look Back" puts the camera on a cranky Bob Dylan
But some music is worthy of taking the spotlight in its own right. The best rockumentaries aren't just for die-hard fans: the finest give a fascinating glimpse into the world of showbusiness and reveal the personalities and tensions behind the music.
We've picked our five favorites, but what are yours? Send us your comments in the "Sound Off" box below.
1. Don't Look Back
(D.A. Pennebaker, 1967)
The Bob Dylan in this classic rockumentary is no charmer: he's cranky, fatigued and tired of playing nice with hacks. But the directors' approach -- to kick back and let Bob do the talking -- is wonderfully revealing, as is the music, which opens with the Ginsberg-featuring video of "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and includes a beautiful impromptu rendition of "Lost Highway" with Joan Baez.
2. The Last Waltz
(Martin Scorsese, 1978)
Perfectly polished concert film that celebrates The Band's final performance. The Band aside, with appearances by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton and Van Morrison the music was always going to be special, but Scorsese's light touch and impeccable cinematography make it a shining paean to musicianship and a precious record of a bittersweet, star-studded night.
3. Truth or Dare/In Bed with Madonna
(Alek Keshishian and Mark Aldo Miceli, 1991)
Her movie-making exploits might miss the target, but the same can't be said for this revealing documentary that followed Madonna's 1990 "Blonde Ambition" tour. As she struts onstage, swipes at Kevin Costner and plays mother hen to her dancers, it's clear that she truly is the linchpin at the center of her cultural circus.
4. Some Kind of Monster
(Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 2004)
You couldn't make it up. Metallica's rock indulgences are put under the microscope in this painful lesson in the perils of stardom. As the band hits a crisis following their bassist's departure, their foibles and freakery come to the fore. Band therapist, anyone? Good on them for allowing its release: more Spinal Tap than Spinal Tap.
5. Rattle and Hum
(Phil Joanou, 1988)
A powerful scrapbook-style portrait of a band at the height of their game, "Rattle and Hum" follows U2 on their "Joshua Tree" tour of America. Spine-tingling performances could be expected, but the high point is a charged rendition of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in Denver just hours after the Enniskillen bombing had killed 11 people back in Ireland.
Don't agree? Think we've missed one? Leave your comments in the Sound Off box below. E-mail to a friend
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