Saturday, August 09, 2003
We Recommend

We finally got around to watching Standing in the Shadows of Motown tonight. My, what a nice little film. It's the story of the Funk Brothers, the under-recognized and under-appreciated musicians who served as the Motown house band for so many records.

How many? My four-CD boxed set "Hitsville, USA" has about twenty or more cuts per disk, and it wouldn't surprise me if many, if not most, of the Funk Brothers played on just about each and every track. And, they also played some songs for the competition. Their involvment in soul and R&B music in the late 50s, the 60s, and the 70s is deep and broad.

The film is splendidly filmed. It's not one of those crusty Ken Burns style documentaries; it largely consists of the artists in question being allowed to talk about what they did and to play the music they were so instrumental (heh) in creating. There are some good front performances by Me'Shell NdegéOcello, Shaka Khan, Bootsy (Collins), Ben Harper, and Joan Osbourne, too.

Addendum: In trying to quickly get that post up last night before I fell asleep, I neglected to mention the quality of the sound editing. Even though we only have a lowly Dolby Pro Logic system, you can still tell when the sound editing of a music-centered flick has been approached with the visual editing in mind.

I thought this film's sound editing was excellent. The image would shift to the guy playing the piano, and the piano would come up slightly in the mix, going back to the original level gradually after the piano left the frame. I contrast that with the Phish flick we recently watched, where the sound editing and the image editing seemed completely disconnected.