Not Fade Away is the debut film from The Sopranos creator David Chase. Described by one critic as “a love letter to rock & roll,” this is the story of a young, shy college student, Douglas (Jack Magaro), who plays drums in his local garage band in New Jersey in the mid-60s. One night at a party, Douglas is asked to sing lead vocals, and this starts a chain reaction in the chain of command, amongst his fellow band members. All of a sudden, they are getting noticed, especially Douglas, now gaining confidence by the day, and the girl he has his eye on, Grace (Bella Heathcote), starts to notice him, too.
With popularity comes conflict, especially at home, as his father (The Sopranos’ James Gandolfini) isn’t exactly warm to the idea of his son trading college for a career in rock n roll. Grace, meanwhile, has issues of her own, as apparently word gets back to Doug that she has slept with more than one member of the band. Not only that, she has a sister who has been having problems with taking too many drugs, especially LSD.
Even more conflict happens within the band, as not only their popularity rises, but so do inner tensions within the band, in terms of leadership and direction. On top of this, Pat (Gandolfini) confesses to Doug that he is terminally ill. Eventually, it all comes to a head; lessons are learned in life, love, and the dangers of the music business. Eventually everyone goes their own way, and the film ends in disappointment on many levels, both character-wise and story-wise.
What I absolutely loved about Not Fade Away is the attention to detail, which Chase has always been great at. The musical instruments and equipment that the band uses are authentic with the times of the mid 60s. The soundtrack, arranged by another Sopranos alumni, “Little” Steven Van Zandt, is terrific. A great blend of 60s and 70s rock that has been well thought-out and applied.
Bonus features include a three-part making-of called The Basement Tapes, as well as Building The Band, a short bio of putting the band together for the film, and what it took to train them. A few deleted scenes round out the bonus section. The DVD and Blu-ray Disc feature 5.1 DTS-HD audio, while a soundtrack CD in stereo is also available. I enjoyed Not Fade Away and I highly recommend it to others, especially people like me who have had their own garage band.