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Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002)

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2:07 | Trailer
Documentary about the Funk Brothers, a group of Detroit musicians who backed up dozens of Motown artists.

Director:

Paul Justman

Writers:

Walter Dallas (Narration), Ntozake Shange (Narration) | 1 more credit »
8 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard 'Pistol' Allen Richard 'Pistol' Allen ... Himself
Jack Ashford ... Himself
Bob Babbitt ... Himself
Benny 'Papa Zita' Benjamin Benny 'Papa Zita' Benjamin ... Himself (archive footage)
Eddie 'Bongo' Brown Eddie 'Bongo' Brown ... Himself (archive footage)
Bootsy Collins ... Himself
Johnny Griffith Johnny Griffith ... Himself
Ben Harper ... Himself
Joe Hunter ... Himself
James Jamerson James Jamerson ... Himself (archive footage)
Uriel Jones Uriel Jones ... Himself
Montell Jordan ... Himself
Chaka Khan ... Herself
Gerald Levert Gerald Levert ... Himself
Joe Messina ... Himself
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Storyline

In 1959, Berry Gordy Jr. gathered the best musicians from Detroit's thriving jazz and blues scene to begin cutting songs for his new record company. Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on every hit from Motown's Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined - which makes them the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music. They called themselves the Funk Brothers. Forty-one years after they played their first note on a Motown record and three decades since they were all together, the Funk Brothers reunited back in Detroit to play their music and tell their unforgettable story, with the help of archival footage, still photos, narration, interviews, re-creation scenes, 20 Motown master tracks, and twelve new live performances of Motown classics with the Brothers backing up contemporary performers. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The best kept secret in the history of pop music. See more »

Genres:

Documentary | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and thematic elements | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 November 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Story of the Funk Brothers See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$114,442, 17 November 2002

Gross USA:

$1,722,119

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,344,256
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Uriel Jones: People would always say everything but the musicians. They would say it was the artists, the producers, the way the building was constructed, the wood in the floor, or maybe even food. But I'd like to see them take some barbecue ribs or hamburgers, anything, and throw down in that studio, shut the door and count off '1,2,3,4' and get a hit out of there. The formula was the musicians!
See more »

Crazy Credits

After all of the credits roll, we see a few of the Funk Brothers leaving the Snake Pit and turning off the lights. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Mess With Bill
by Smokey Robinson (as William Robinson Jr.)
Performed by The Marvelettes
Used by permission of Jobete Music Co., Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Courtesy of Motown Record Company, L.P.
under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

Moving tribute
13 November 2004 | by rodewSee all my reviews

I really loved this documentary. Three key points: (1) I applaud the spirit and energy to put the project- long overdue recognition and praise for great musicians- together. I happen to be a fan of the Temptations movie and saw this DVD next to it. Had I not bought it on a whim, I would be so much more empty. (2) James Jamerson-I would love a documentary on him alone. Not because of his quirks, but because of his tortured spirits; a great movie-making project! Also, upon my research of this topic after seeing this film, I came across an extensive web site, bassplayer.com, with a great tribute page to Jamerson. Among the most outrageous discussions that have not been resolved to my knowledge- who played bass on Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made to Love Her"? The majority of folks strongly contend it was James Jamerson, however, a woman named Carol Kaye states she was the actual bass player for the song.

I don't know the truth, but I do know that after never hearing the bass in the song for the 30+ plus that this has been one of my all-time favorite songs, I ONLY hear the bass line. That bass line is so masterful, so exceptional, and so unrelentingly funky, that I believe only a virtuoso could have done it. The fact that that song and bass line were done in 1966/67, amidst so many hundreds of other Motown hits and other songs, tells me that the Funk Brothers and James Jamerson were truly blessed talents.

(3) Chaka Khan's rendition of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" is undoubtedly the very best performance I have ever seen her do and is among the top performances ever recorded. That she won a Grammy for the song is amazing. She actually sang it in 2000; the movie was released in 2002 and won the Grammy in 2003! I get teary every time I hear her singing the song in the movie(I replayed this section at least 10 times when I first saw the movie) and I don't think she will ever have another brilliant performance that would match that intensity. Bottom line: I strongly recommend this movie and subsequent deeper research into other great R&B music roots. Rod Walker


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