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[fearnwhiskey] Standing in the Shadows of Motown (long)

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  • Lance Davis
    Finally saw this documentary about Motown s Funk Brothers last night. Lots of great footage, tastefully woven in dramatizitions and historical background, but
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 25, 2002
      Finally saw this documentary about Motown's Funk Brothers last
      night. Lots of great footage, tastefully woven in dramatizitions
      and historical background, but the best thing about it for me
      was just seeing the guys playing together (in every sense of the
      word). It's clear that these dudes were happy to finally get
      some recognition and their love and respect for one another is
      quite palpable. When bassist Bob Babbitt is asked by Me'Shell
      Ndeg�Ocello about being a white guy in a largely black band, and
      what that was like after MLK was shot, he can barely answer.
      This is probably the emotional hotspot of the movie, and it
      crystallizes much of what made the Funk Brothers special. In a
      culture where we're encouraged to divide ourselves based upon
      notions of race, the FBs saw themselves as a family. White and
      black didn't factor in, so to be faced with that question was
      like asking what it would be like to be kicked out of your
      family. Great filmmaking.

      For those of you who haven't seen it, there was a tribute
      concert for the Funk Brothers held a year or so ago, and footage
      of it is interspersed throughout the movie. The surviving FBs
      backup various singers: Gerald Levert, Me'Shell Ndeg�Ocello, Ben
      Harper, Joan Osborne, Bootsy Collins, Chaka Khan, and Montell
      Jordan. Personally, I liked Me'Shell Ndeg�Ocello's singing the
      best. Maybe because she's a bass player she's predisposed to
      singing behind the beat. I don't know, maybe not. But I thought
      she was pretty cool.

      Speaking of bassists, lots of great stories about the late,
      great James Jamerson. Hard to believe that when he played on all
      those songs - in so doing revolutionizing how the bass would
      sound for years to come - he only played with ONE finger!! We're
      not talking about playing Happy Birthday either. These were
      pretty sophisticated arrangements, made by and for jazz trained
      dudes, and he only needed his right index finger to blaze that
      trail. Simply amazing. I wonder if Paul McCartney and Rick Danko
      knew that when they were digesting those runs?

      Anyway, suffice it to say that y'all should check this movie
      out. I came away with the belief that their contribution to the
      Motown Sound was, in fact, the Motown Sound!! Which I think was
      the point.


      "Now there are seven kinds of Coke
      500 kinds of cigarettes
      This freedom of choice in the USA
      Drives everybody crazy."

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