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The Blues Brothers - The Blues Brothers

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Genre: R&B & Soul - Soul / Artist: The Blues Brothers / Original recording remastered / Audio CD released 1995-11-06 at Atlantic

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    2 Reviews
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      19.05.2012 22:23
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      A true classic

      This is the album from the cult film The Blues Brothers which starred John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues and while most of the songs are more about rhythm rather than blues tracks mixed in with a bit of gospel it is a great album that brings back some excellent memories of a film I have watched on a number of occasions. The tracks are not played in the order that they appear in the film however that does not detract from the overall quality and the fact that some great stars of the music scene appear on the album.

      My personal favourite is the last track on the album, the ballsy, jammed full of attitude version of Think sung by Aretha Franklin, in the film she is fighting to stop her man leaving their soul food business to join up again with the Blues Brothers. It is a powerful song delivered in a nagging, finger wagging style with some great saxophone in it. The whole album contains some great brass sections and the artists are all top of their field.

      Another great track is Shake Your Tail Feather with the vocals and keyboard provided by Ray Charles, in the film there was a great choreographed street dancing scene which was totally over the top, the song is a rip roaring song with a great driving beat to it. Sweet Home Chicago is the longest track on the album and a chance for all of the band to do a bit of a solo, I love teh harmonica and trumpet sections on this track which is one that gets your hands clapping.

      She Caught the Katy and Gimme Some Lovin are also great songs, the former is a slower more bluesy track while the latter is a good song but lacks a certain something, it is a bit similar to Everybody Needs Somebody to Love and in my opinion both could do with a bit more oomph in the vocals.

      This criticism cannot be levelled against either Old Landmark which sees James Brown deliver a bit of gospel music or the great Cab Calloway singing his signature tune of Minnie the Moocha, again back up by some awesome brass play.

      There are a couple of tracks which only really make sense in the context of the film, the country and western theme tune Rawhide being one of them but given that they bring with them a mental immage of a pan faced Jake (Belushi) delivering his lines in disgust they still manage to make me smile.

      Tracklist
      1 Minnie The Moocher
      2 Jailhouse Rock
      3 Sweet Home Chicago
      4 Rawhide
      5 Peter Gunn
      6 Gimme Some Lovin'
      7 She Caught The Katy
      8 Old Landmark
      9 Shake A Tail Feather
      10 Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
      11 Think

      This is a great album and one I still liston to every so often, in fact it is in the car cd at the moment.

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      17.02.2010 18:04
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      All good harmless fun

      Founded and fronted in 1978 by comedic duo Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, 'The Blues Brothers' started out as a light-hearted musical sketch on the popular American TV show 'Saturday Night Live'. Backed by a plethora of well respected musicians, characters Jake (Belushi) and Elwood (Aykroyd) soon evolved into a phenomenon. They began performing as a band in their own right, playing legitimate gigs and released the album 'Breifcase Full Of Blues' before eventually outgrowing the small screen to star in the smash film 'The Blues Brothers'.

      There was a slight downside to this as it spawned countless half-baked two man 'tribute' acts where you'd see a short dumpy bloke and his tall, thin counterpart stroll into pubs with their hats, shades and tape machines delusively thinking that clowning around for an hour in half-mast trousers somehow qualified them to be classed as an act. Ok, now I've coughed-up that particular nagging furball, we'll get on with the music.

      This was their second album and featured selected tracks from the 1980 film which was penned by Dan Aykroyd and John Landis.



      With such a proficient backing band behind them they must have had some jolly old fun sitting on the banks of the big musical river pondering which songs to fish out and fry. They ended up with quite a varied assortment which gave the album freshness and a sense of balance.

      The album is awash with well known cover versions and a couple of tracks even feature the original artistes singing their own song to the distinct Blues Brothers orchestration. As always, when dissecting classics you've got to be careful. Do it in negligence with a rusty scalpel and they'll become a dirty infected mess, get it right and your plagiarism will be forgiven. Thankfully they get it right not least because they employed a shrewd surgical ensemble to guest including the likes of Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, James Brown and the all round specialist of musical mastery Dr Ray Charles Robinson. Aykroyd and Belushi take the lead in 6 of the 11 tracks on here and it's fair to say that Aykroyd's contribution as a vocalist is minimal but Belushi can certainly hold his own although there is a little part of me that can't help feeling that during certain tracks he is ever so slightly carried by the band.

      The band was spearheaded by guitarist Steve Cropper of Booker T and the M.G's fame. If you've ever listened and loved a soul song then I can pretty much guarantee that Cropper has either played on it or co-written it. This also serves to argue my point that the songs sway toward a more soul orientation than a strict blues one. There can be a fine line between soul and blues at times with many of the chord progressions being very similar (the song '634-5789'springs to mind) but it does provide us with an enjoyable fusion on this album. Add to this a sprinkle of swing, a dusting of jazz and a smattering of rock then you have a lovely tuneful repast to pick the bones out of.

      A big doff of the trilby must go to sax player Tom Malone who presided over all the horn arrangements. For me, the brass section is what gives the whole album its identity. Punctuated in the right places, subtle, sleazy and executed to perfection it ices the cake and sees the Blues Brothers' sound set in stone. Most prominent on the excellent cover of 'Sweet Home Chicago' the horns not only claim the song, they positively scalp it too. The swirling ostinato toward the end is one I could listen to all the lick-long day. Dedicated to the Windy City, it will blow you away, crank it up at full tilt and enjoy. It will always be quite a poignant song for blues fans as it was the last number performed on stage by the great Stevie Ray Vaughan just minutes before his tragic death.

      'She Caught The Katy' is probably the nearest they get to straight blues but the brass stabs just allow it to deviate a little. It's the kind of thing that maybe the Stones or a young Rod Stewart would kick about with if it were in a less rounded format.

      The 'Peter Gunn Theme', written by Henry 'Pink Panther' Mancini, stands alone as the album's only instrumental track. Again, lush swells by Malone's brass section and these float over and almost appear to chase after the stomping bass line giving us a sort of soul man's James Bond theme.

      The Bluesmobile parks up outside the house of rock but marginally and somewhat deliberately overshoots its slot remaining half in and half out for the cover of The Spencer Davis Group's 'Gimmie Some Lovin'. Now I may have to venture forth a slice of personal opinion that may draw the odd gasp and howl of derision with regards this number. It is a song that for some reason has always annoyed me and I've never been quite able to truly grasp the concept of its overwhelming popularity. Maybe it's been far too overplayed, every man and his dog seem to have had a crack at it. People tell me it has a great rhythm, a great pulse and that maybe so... for them. But for me it just makes me think of a beakless woodpecker banging its head against a tree, or a bothersome neighbour banging at your door at stupid o'clock in the morning. Malone's horn section mimics the original keys and everyone seems delighted to be a part of it but it will always be silhouetted against a backdrop of mediocrity for my money.

      A nice inclusion on here is a tongue-in-cheek adaption of the theme from 'Rawhide' which I guess they had to stick on because it was quite a pivotal part of the film when they played it to save their skin at the country and western bar they ended up in. I personally love a good TV theme tune and I must admit that our star spangled cousins from across the pond are the best in the business. 'Rawhide' comes second only to 'Champion The Wonder Horse' in my humble opinion. I know these shows were released closer to the Bronze Age than my actual date of birth (sincerest apologies if you remember these the first time around) but endless repeats were all we had during school holidays. It provides a pleasant and light-hearted interlude with its trotting rhythm and gunslinger delivery, and yes, it does slightly tempt you to hook your thumbs in your belt and squat somewhat comically in time with the beat.

      The legendary Ray Charles makes a guest appearance on 'Shake Your Tailfeather', a fun rock and roll boogie that's just a simple 3 chord trick and soul sister Aretha Franklin sings like a bird as per usual on 'Think' which is soul in its roots but shuffles and flickers along trying desperately to sneak into funk territory.

      The band makes a quality job out of Solomon Burke's 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love'. Steve Cropper's distinctive stabs from his Telecaster subtly pat the song down and shape it into a nice bouncing rhythm. Once more there's some sweet love going on between Tom Malone and his horn section with pinball machine brass arrows hitting their targets at all the right times. Aykroyd's introductory speech has also become an integral part of the song and it is always slightly amusing when our aforementioned tall/short tribute acts get all tongue twisted trying to replicate this mantra leaving them stood there looking like some bodged Dickensian experiment. The song is a simple but effective crowd pleasing romp.

      The 'Godfather of Soul' himself, James Brown, makes a choir-assisted contribution on the gospel song 'The Old Landmark'. Gospel, for me, is a funny one as religion and I don't really meld (although I must admit to harbouring a secret urge to perform an exorcism just for the sheer drama). I do feel once you've heard one gospel song you've heard them all but you've got to admire the dog chasing tail aspect of the vibrant walking bass line and the all round musical aptitude. It's all happy and clappy and it's James Brown singing so you can't tell what in the blue balls the lyrics are anyway. Not my ideal subject matter but it sounds damn good and I'll always praise a meaty bass line.

      Belushi takes the lead for a lively cover of 'Jailhouse Rock'. Now I fully buy into "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing", but I feel this version is in danger of possibly swinging a little too much - the cell door almost coming off its hinges allowing us to peer in at world of cheese laden cabaret but I'd say they just about get away with it to deliver a steady enough interpretation.

      I have saved the best till last in the form of jazz great 'Minnie The Moocher'. This song is a true example of why the smoking ban should never have happened. Forget health issues this is a mood issue we're talking about here. This is a hit served best at foggy, dimly lit cellar bars where the notes can hitch a ride on those wispy swirls. Cab Calloway's classic crawls like the coolest cat in all Chicago. Back arched, tail up and footsteps healing the cracks in the sidewalk as it purrs along with a mute trumpet to die for. It smoulders, it smokes, it virtually catches fire during a 2/4 change of pace leading into the 3rd chorus. This provides a great platform for Calloway to rattle out one of his legendary skat call and response ditties. But, oh, that cry baby mute trumpet, Alan Rubin, take a big bow my friend. I'm convinced it could bring people back from the dead.

      All in all, each song is performed with suitable aplomb and regardless of how much you enjoyed the film it does stand out as an album in its own right. What also makes it click is the variation. As I mentioned at the beginning of the piece, we have jazz, blues, soul, gospel - it keeps the album fresh and very listenable. There is an element of slapstick thrown in but that doesn't do it any harm. If I were to meet this album on the street I would offer it a strong profound handshake and take it for a pint.
      Blues? Not exactly - but enjoyable? Yes. They fished out some good songs. Maybe could have fished out better ones who knows?

      One thing that is for sure is that Ol' Man River, he just keeps rollin' along.

      Music - damn I love it so!

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Minnie The Moocher
      2 Jailhouse Rock
      3 Sweet Home Chicago
      4 Rawhide
      5 Peter Gunn
      6 Gimme Some Lovin'
      7 She Caught The Katy
      8 Old Landmark
      9 Shake A Tail Feather
      10 Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
      11 Think