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
[referring to a crowd that booed him once after his name was announced]
At first, they didn't care nothin' about the blues. They didn't know nothin' about me. The reason they booed 'cause it was blues. When they said "blues", hey, it's like being black twice.
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Most of the big names in American blues music, certainly the black exponents, get glimpsed in this tribute show - and if they didn't attend, mainly because they are deceased, there is archive footage of them. Although a concert, the film manages to become a documentary as well and reasonably chronological. Obviously you can't expect this condensed film to be comprehensive about a subject this big with so many artists, but it makes a good try. The artists and their performances I guess are a matter of personal taste, but I enjoyed most of them. The borders between blues, soul and rock are rather blurred sometimes, but there are lots of people who resist categorization. Standouts for me were Buddy Guy's rendition of Jimi Hendrix's "Red House" (Hendrix was actually a big fan of Buddy Guy) and BB King's fret work right at the end. For blues lovers it's a must see; for those who don't know much about it, this film is a good introduction. Try to see it in a cinema with a good sound system.
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