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Preview: "Bang! The Bert Berns Story" Coming to Home Video on June 1

Artist: Various Artists
Title: Bang! The Bert Berns Story
Release Date: June 1, 2018
  • DVD
Virtually since its debut at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival, demand for a DVD version of BANG! The Bert Berns Story has been mounting. In the intervening time, the feature documentary has been screened at more than 50 international film festivals, theatrically released in numerous major markets and digitally released thereafter. Along the way, it attained a 100% Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes and earned five (out of five) stars from MOJO. Now, the film’s producers have announced that, at long last, a DVD release is set for this June 1. The BANG! DVD include a full hour of additional footage, including interviews with Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Ronald Isley, Cissy Houston, Andrew Loog Oldham, Solomon Burke, Betty Harris, Mike Stoller, Ben E. King, Doug Morris, Joel Dorn and Carmine “Wassel” DeNoia, among others.

It’s music meets the Mob in this biographical documentary about the life and career of Bert Berns narrated by Stevie Van Zandt and featuring Van Morrison, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, and many more. BANG! The Bert Berns Story tells the story of one of the most important songwriters, producers and label chiefs of the ‘60s whose hits include “Twist and Shout,” “Hang On Sloopy,” “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Here Comes The Night” and “Piece Of My Heart.” He helped launch the careers of Van Morrison and Neil Diamond and died tragically at the age of 38, before the decade was out. BANG! The Bert Berns Story was executive produced by Sid Ganis and produced by Michael B. Borofsky and Brooks Arthur. Brett Berns, Bert’s son, co-directed with Bob Sarles who also edited the film. Sarles is an Emmy-nominated film and television editor and documentary filmmaker. He co-edited the Peabody Award winning documentary series Moon Shot and directed and edited Sweet Blues: A Film About Mike Bloomfield; Fly Jefferson Airplane; John Lee Hooker: Come And See About Me; Feed Your Head: The Psychedelic Era and Soulsville.

Brett Berns commented, “Because of the subject matter, there has been an understandable demand for a physical DVD of the film from fans of the music and collectors of my father’s body of work. We’re delighted to finally make it available now with a bounty of extra footage from many of the artists whose lives and music were touched by what he was able to accomplish in the short time he was given.”

Until quite recently, Bert Berns had been relegated to obscurity, his very existence known only among the cognoscenti of hardcore record collectors and old school music industry veterans, but that has dramatically changed in recent years. The film is part of what The New York Times called “the Berns boomlet,” which began in 2014 with the acclaimed Joel Selvin-authored biography Here Comes The Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm & Blues (Counterpoint Press) and the source of the film’s narrative thread. The Broadway bound musical Piece of My Heart – The Bert Berns Story originally premiered Off-Broadway in 2014 in an extended run called “stunning” by The Village Voice and “gorgeously tuneful” by The New York Times.

Stevie Van Zandt, the musician (Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band), actor (The Sopranos) and media mogul (SiriusXM’s Little Steven’s Underground Garage) posthumously inducted Berns into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 and is, most appropriately, the film’s narrator.

BANG! The Bert Berns Story chronicles the brief life of a musical genius who, over the course of a tragically brief career, managed to write and produce numerous groundbreaking hits on both sides of the Atlantic. Berns founded Bang, one of the most successful independent record labels of all time, the home of hits by Neil Diamond, The McCoys, The Strangeloves and Van Morrison. Shout Records, Bang’s sister label, yielded hits for Freddie Scott, Erma Franklin and other R&B greats. Bert Berns is the only songwriter in history whose work has been recorded by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals, Them and Led Zeppelin.

Analog Planet, the highly influential high-end audio site encapsulated the film’s appeal: “Cross Goodfellas with the hippest Ken Burns PBS mid-sixties New York music business documentary you've never seen and then anchor it with a songwriter, producer, record label executive biography that were it not true would have been difficult for any fiction writer to invent. That's the heart of Bang! The Bert Berns Story.”

The New York Times review of the film noted, “There’s some juicy stuff here… If you love the music Berns made, you’ll love this movie; if you don’t, I feel for you. But Bang! might nevertheless entertain with its dish.”

Roots music outlet No Depression suggested, “You probably heard a Bert Berns song today. If you heard “Tell Him,” “Twist and Shout,” “Cry to Me,” “Here Comes the Night,” “Hang on Sloopy” or “Piece of My Heart,” you heard a song he wrote. If you heard “Baby, I’m Yours,” “Under the Boardwalk” or “Brown Eyed Girl,” you heard a record he produced. Berns’ enormous catalog of deeply-felt songs and deftly-produced records puts him in a league with the best of the Brill Building’s songwriters and New York’s golden age pop producers.

Additional laudation for BANG! The Bert Berns Story:

The story is arresting, and if that’s all BANG! offered, that would be enough. But BANG! does more. – San Francisco Chronicle.

BANG! is a documentary that simply needed to be made. — Variety

The film recounts the way Berns charged and hustled his way into the music business, shaping the sound and business of pop along the way… BANG! also serves as an unintentional eulogy for an era of pop that recedes into the history books. – Rolling Stone

The film unfolds like a Hollywood noir…BANG! is sure to stir your emotions and stick in your head for some time. – NY Observer

The new high-water mark for music documentaries. – Glide Magazine

This film is a beautiful secret whispered in your ear. -- Sugarbuzz

BANG! needs to be seen. -- Counterpunch