In the past few years, music biographies have become the new big thing, and each year there are at least a dozen books and films going out on the market, obviously making music enthusiasts go crazy. This year makes no exception as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, a biography film about Freddie Mercury and Queen set to be released in less than two weeks, is already on the critics’ shortlist for the upcoming Academy Awards.


Henry Scott-Irvine’s ‘Tales From Tin Pan Alley’ is the kind of music biography that doesn’t focus on only one band or one artist as one might expect, but it goes way further and focuses on a place that was for a long period of time the core of it all, the place where music became the amazing thing we know today. The “Denmark Street” in London is the place where over the last one hundred and ten years music has been the universal language. In this feature documentary, Irvine tackles at first the history of the place, going through everything relevant that happened in it, through all the modifications the street underwent during WW1, the inter-war period, WW2, and finally, the after-war period. If you carefully watch this documentary, you can easily see that Irvine actually tells the story of almost every building on that street, drawing a complete ‘family tree’, and painting a great picture with incredible details.


For the veracity of the story, in ‘Tales from Tin Pan Alley’ there are some guest appearances from musicians who revolutionized music, and who at the same time dealt with the “Denmark Street” movement. Among others we can mention David Bowie’s bassist Herbie Flowers, Sex Pistols’ bassist Glen Matlock, Damned guitarist Captain Sensible, Beta Band’s Steve Mason, soul singer Linda Lewis, Tom Jones songwriter Barry Mason, and so on.


This documentary may not be for everyone for a simple reason: not every music fanatic or film enthusiast will enjoy it as much as we did, and it’s ok. We can easily compare this film to those academic studies that are usually captivating and practical especially to the ones dealing with this particular field. Henry Scott-Irvine managed to gather so much important information to make a delightful and relevant movie not only for the cinema history but also for the music history, and why not, for history itself. ‘Tales from Tin Pan Alley’ is without any doubt a point on the map of the music business, a film that has to be on the shortlist of every aspiring musician out there.