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|Index||18 reviews in total|
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.
Overall, this recent concert was good and offered a wonderful group of
diverse artists. I had never heard of about a half dozen of these
performers and really liked a lot of the "new" faces (to me). They
ranged from a few old-time gentlemen to a couple of young women. Macy
Gray blew me away with her rendition of "Hound Dog."
I also had no idea Natalie Cole could belt out the blues as she did. Wow, that was a pleasant surprise, as were the two Aerosmith performers, Steve Tyler and Joe Perry. I thought they were just rock/heavy metal-type guys. Wrong. Kim Wilson on harmonica was great, and Buddy Guy playing guitar is always awesome.
How about the band? There were some heavy hitters in there and they left no doubt what a great time they were having helping out most of these performers.
The only negative to this DVD, as a few others have pointed out, is the ridiculous rendition by Chuck D of a John Lee Hooker classic. Plus, he made things worse by turning the song into some really lame anti-war diatribe. This is where the expression, "Shut Up And Sing" takes hold. There is always some moron who has to get political, where it's not the forum for that sort of thing. The real question is, "Why was this included in the DVD while so much other good music was not included?"
Anyway, B.B. King finishes up the disc on a positive note and then Bonnie Raitt and Robert Cray join him as the ending credits roll.
This is more of a concert than a documentary but the songs are short, too short for my tastes since I enjoyed them so much but, hey, there were a lot of "acts" to squeeze into this 103- minute DVD, so I understand. I'd rather have paid more and had a two-disc DVD and heard the entire night's offering. That would be awesome.
Speaking of that, don't forget the extra bonus tracks on the "features" part of the DVD. There is some excellent music in this, some of it, I found, better than many of the performances on the main concert. The two Aerosmith dudes, Greg Allman and guitarist Warren Haynes, Buddy Guy doing another number and a "21st Century Blues" rendition of "Revelation," featuring Chris Thomas King. These extra songs are not to be missed.
Any fan of blues, I would suspect, would want this in his or her collection.
Lightning in a Bottle was not exactly what I expected. I went into the
film expecting more of a documentary, and came out with more of a
concert film. Yes, there were bits of history in the film, which were
well presented. I am not terribly knowledgeable on the blues; just
having enjoyed the music rather than learning it's history. Regardless
of what I expected versus what I got, I enjoyed the film.
My favorite scene was simply a great camera angle. Watching Buddy Guy play, from below the guitar, while the light streamed between his deftly moving fingers gave me a feeling that is difficult to describe. Something about the light, and the music, and the hands that brought me there.
Several of the musical numbers were outstanding, notably Buddy Guy, BB King, Natalie Cole and Bonnie Raitt. I also enjoyed some of the "oldsters" like Hooker and Clarence Gatemouth Brown.
When Angélique Kidjo convinced Buddy Guy to come back on stage and accompany her on "Voodoo Chile" I was amazed! She was so full of energy, and she had that old pro wrapped around her tiny finger as she strutted on stage. To me, the performance was electric, and the smile on Guy's face makes me think he agreed.
I also enjoyed watching India.Arie perform Strange Fruit. Her voice is soothing, and there was an underlying passion that I think embodies the blues.
As for Lightning in a Bottle...I think it was described in the film, but not named specifically. It was said that you can write down all the lyrics, and the notes, there is still unmistakably something not present on the page. It takes a blues artist to find the missing essence and infuse it into the performance. If we could bottle it, we'd be millionaires, huh?
On 07 February 2003, fifty artists are gathered in a concert in the
Radio City Music Hall in New York City, for one of the greatest tribute
to the blues. Produced by Martin Scorsese and directed by Antoine
Fuqua, this concert and documentary entwines wonderful songs with
interviews and footages, for example, of John Lee Hooker that died in
I have just seen this wonderful tribute on DVD and I dare to say that it is a must-see and mandatory in any collection of blues lover. My vote is ten.
Title (Brazil): "A História do Blues" ("The History of the Blues")
I rented this DVD tonight, and was extremely impressed with the entire program. An amazing house band led by drummer extrodinare Steve Jordan, backing the absolute cream of the crop of blues legends. Not to mention some surprising performances by some new artists paying homage to the greats of the blues. Being a huge blues fan for at least 25 years, I was shocked to accidentally run across this DVD in my local video store. For one, I didn't even know it had been made..and I was also amazed that our video store had the good taste to stock it on their shelves. My next move is to buy a copy for my own collection. One of the strangest things to me is that some of the best songs on this collection are only found in the bonus tracks and did not make the feature. For example an incredible version of "The Sky Is Crying" by Warren Haynes (one of the greatest white guitarists alive) and the legendary Gregg Allman. Plus some other great gems, from Buddy Guy and others. If you love the blues, do yourself a favor and see this movie. I plan on seeing it many more times myself. A totally inspirational music film for lovers of ANY music. I give it two thumbs up and the rest of my fingers too.
I really enjoyed this movie. It was a mixture of Blues history, music, interviews and historical footage - heavy on the Blues music. It was a treat to have some of the oldies, especially Buddy Guy, getting intense and passionate while doing their music. "Voodoo Chile" was magical. I also enjoyed the younger/newer artists doing covers on some of the songs. I would have given this movie a "9 or 10" except for one inappropriate performance. Chuck D did his sloppy version of one of the classics and used it to interject his negative opinion of President Bush. It didn't fit the rest of this "classy" film. I highly recommend this film to anyone that likes the Blues. It would be an especially good film to watch with a few music-loving friends because it feels like you're getting a personal concert. Check it out!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just in case you're going to be upset if I talk about the artists in a
music compilation DVD, I've indicated there are spoilers. Personally,
I'd find that a strange attitude, but you never know...
I've seen some of the really negative comments about this film after having taken a chance on it at the local rental shop. Yes, rockumentaries have a bad rep - this film doesn't deserve it. However, if you buy or rent it hoping to learn how to play like Buddy Guy, B.B.King, Joe Perry, Herbert Sumlin, or any of the many other musicians featured here, don't. It is a DELIGHTFUL and really enjoyable collection of excellent performances by a wide variety of artists, and if you like the blues and don't expect an instructional video you won't be disappointed. On the DVD there are extra songs by Buddy Guy, Steve Tyler and Joe Perry, and a great number by 21st Century Blues. The acoustic piece on the main 'movie' by Guy is outstanding, with period still and film footage and sound of the song that was the roots of the song, a lead in where Buddy tells you the well worn story of his roots, and then you get this sparkling Muddy Waters piece performed by Buddy on acoustic. Tyler and Perry rip up their numbers and bring the place down. Killer. Absolutely killer. And for those of you wondering how and why Buddy Guy sometimes out-'Hendrixes' Hendrix, there is some historical background and footage on the Blues lineage that's of interest. And it isn't all about Buddy Guy; there is a wide range of vocal, acoustic and electric blues ranging from the early part of the century to the latter half. Some of it is straight up; most of it is made slightly more contemporary by the performers. The Billy Holiday piece is incredibly haunting...
If you're thinking about buying, rent it first. I wasn't planning on buying at all and I rented it. Now I'm seriously thinking about buying it.
The thing that separates the Blues from many other types of music is
that it is an art born of pain and suffering, of a collective
experience that includes slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation,
discrimination and poverty. With all that to face, who wouldn't be
singing the blues? Yet, as with any great art form, the suffering is
only a part of the story. For the Blues derives its true energy and
strength from the optimism and hope it exudes, that hope for a better
future that resides in the human spirit even in the darkest of times.
Through the years, the Blues has given voice to the powerless and
helped change the world in ways that one never could have imagined a
hundred years ago. That is its true legacy.
All of this has been effectively captured in "Lightning in a Bottle," a documentary about a concert held at Radio City Music Hall to commemorate one hundred years of the Blues. The concert organizers gathered some of the greatest legends still alive today - far too numerous to mention - to play and sing together and to pay tribute to the musical trailblazers who went ahead of them (artists like Leadbelly, Billie Holliday etc.). The concert itself has an almost "survey course" feel to it, charting the development and growth of the Blues from its roots in Africa to its flowering as the premiere art form and avenue of expression for millions of oppressed blacks in 20th Century America. The performances are accompanied by behind-the-scenes interviews with some of the artists present at the event as well as by old audio and film clips of many of the seminal performers from the past doing their thing in the recording studio or on stage. Thus, we are given a nicely balanced view of the Blues both past and present.
The musical performances are all first rate, although, in the interest of time, the sets are much shorter than any real Blues fan would probably like them to be. Still, it's great to hear the old standards being performed by world-renowned artists at the peak of their form. If you're a devotee, check out "Lightning in a Bottle." And if you're not a blues fan, check the film out anyway. You might just learn something and have a terrific time listening to all that great music at one and the same time.
Brother, the director totally blows. There's way too much close facial
camera work and not enough actual musician work, as this brand of music
demands. Every chance to show guitar wizardry, magical band interplay,
or joyous group activity is squandered with MTV style ADHD spastic
fast-cuts and illogical camera movements. Shame, damn shame. It's a
fine DVD to put on to cook, read, or dance to, but way too frustrating
Also, don't expect to learn everything there is to know about the blues in one 2 hour DVD, even if they seem to suggest it's what they're attempting. As a record of ONE particular blues STUNT, it's OK. A TRUE blues event is a dive bar, a buzzing PA system, a dancing drunk grandmother, and unbelievably honest music.
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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