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Beginning with a stirring African folk song (Zélié performed by Angélique Kidjo) the roots are established and rapidly swell into a trunk thickened by the hardships of the Great Depression (Gamblin' Man performed by David 'Honeyboy' Edwards) and the oppression of segregation (Jim Crow Blues performed by Odetta). Finally, this Blues family tree shows off vibrant new growth as it reveals the Blues' influence on our modern wealth of talented musicians (Midnight Special performed by John Fogerty and Hound Dog done by Macy Gray). Ruth Brown gives Blll Cosby a full-throttle serenade (and a playful smoldering gaze), along with Mavis Staples and Natalie Cole. Angélique Kidjo persuades Buddy Guy to an unforgettable rendition of 'Voodoo Child,' shortly before Bonnie Raitt and Robert Cray accompany B.B. King and Lucille for the final number, 'Paying the Cost to be the Boss.' This documentary presents to the audience, with authority and candor, an authentic history of this musical form. The ... Written by
With all due respect to the blues legends that performed, and were celebrated in this documentary, it was awesome. I loved the camera angles, the lighting, the sound, as well.
During the viewing of this film, I was searching, listening, for the answer to the question its title sets up - what is "Lightning in a Bottle?" I just don't know - they never told me...is it whiskey? I've yet to figure it out. If someone reading this caught the answer, please name it, for my attention failed.
However, there were things that were shown to me, that I feel could have with common nicety, been edited out. I didn't need to see Odetta, lady blues icon turned bitterness, stomp in and scream that Ruth Brown must not compete with a band. It was enough for me to notice her dramatic instability when she budged off stage following her own performance. Likewise, I didn't need to see Macy Gray asking someone what song she would be singing, and how she should sing it. First of all, who doesn't know "Hound Dog?" Second of all, it didn't do her justice to display her ignorance in this rudimentary phase of practice.
My last gripe - what a sad, sad tribute Chuck D displayed for John Lee Hooker. There was no homage in that, no reverence, or even dignity. He should be ultimately ashamed for taking a disc from the spine of blues and smashing it into such a blasphemous, desperate failure. Mr. Hooker must have rolled in his grave.
Back to the positive notes...Buddy Guy, as usual, was awesome. I even forgive him for coming back out to play while some band butchered Voodoo Chile. It was that performance made for one great camera shot in which I was looking up from the floor at his hand scratching away on his guitar. Clarence Gatemouth Brown was wonderful. I enjoyed him talking, and doing his thing on the stage. BB King gave a great and fitting finish.
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