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dvd, Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Funk Brothers

Standing in the Shadows of Motown on Motownin studioyhtyeestä Funk Brothersista kertova dokumenttielokuva vuodelta 2002. Sen ohjasi Paul Justman. Funk Brothersilla oli merkittävä rooli kuuluisan Motown-soundin luomisessa, vaikka siitä ei tullutkaan yhtä kuuluisaa kuin monista Motown-solisteista. Tunnettujen solistien taustayhtyeenä sille kuitenkin kertyi enemmän listaykkösiä kuin Beatlesille, Elvis Presleylle ja Rolling Stonesille yhteensä.



Dokumentti Standing in the Shadows of Motown kertoo Motown-levy-yhtiön nimettömästä studiobändistä, joka kutsui itseään nimellä Funk Brothers. Yhtye jäi kuuluisien solistien varjoon, mutta sitä ilman ei olisi syntynyt legendaarista Motown-soundia. Itse asiassa Funk Brothers soitti useammalla listaykkösellä kuin Beatles, Elvis ja Rolling Stones yhteensä!

Paul Justmanin vuonna 2002 ohjaama elokuva huipentuu konserttiin, jossa veteraanimuusikot soittavat Motownin kotikaupungissa Detroitissa levy-yhtiön soulklassikkoja, nyt vierailevien solistien kera. Funk Brothers säestää muun muassa Chaka Khania, Ben Harperia, Meshelle Ndegeocelloa ja Bootsy Collinsia. Ain't No Mountain High Enough!



Detroit, Michigan, 1959. Berry Gordy gathered the best musicians from the city's thriving jazz and blues scene for his new record company: Motown.



Benjamin H. Smith at Decider.Com; Benjamin H. Smith is a New York based writer, producer and musician.

At the start of this turbulent new century, music documentaries had mostly been relegated to one-hour episodes of VH1’s Behind The Music or the BBC’s Classic Albums. While both series were highly entertaining, they often sacrificed insight and nuance for formula and output. Released in late 2002, Standing In The Shadows Of Motown was the first shot across the bow from the emerging music doc revolution to come. It’s deep dive into the musicians behind the “Motown Sound” was the stuff music nerd dreams are made of. Its popularity was built on the back of cable television, bypassing the art houses cinema and midnight movie screenings of its forebears. Currently streaming on Hulu, it stands as one of the most influential music documentaries of recent years and one of the best.

From oldies stations to movie soundtracks to television commercials, everybody knows the music of Motown Records. One of the most important record labels and black-owned businesses of all-time, it launched the careers of some of music’s greatest artists and released a slew of classic recordings. While acclaim was lavished upon its singers, songwriters and even label founder Berry Gordy, the musicians who played on nearly all the label’s hit records were mostly forgotten until Standing In The Shadows Of Motown‘s gave them their propers.

As the film tells us, the Motown house band was made up of “the best musicians from Detroit’s thriving jazz and blues scene.” Dubbed the “Funk Brothers,” they became “The greatest hit machine in the history of pop music.” It’s a claim beyond dispute when you consider the same core of musicians played on nearly every Motown recording from the early 1960s to mid-’70s. Just as soon, however, we are reminded of the perils of being the sideman and not the star. We meet keyboardist Joe Hunter, who, while playing piano at a hotel cocktail bar, laments “being left out of the dream.” He talks about the pain of hearing songs he played on but not sharing in the glory or profits. “As the years go by,” he wonders, “will anyone ever know who we are or what we did?”

Mixing interviews, live performances and reenactments, Standing In The Shadows Of Motown is a nearly two-hour testimonial to the Funk Brothers and their importance. Their musical contributions defined the sound of Motown Records and thanks to the label’s popularity their influence permeated popular music as a whole. Including a revolving lineup of 4 guitarists, 3 keyboard players, 2 percussionists and 3 drummers, their personal playing styles – the riffs, guitar licks and drum beats they literally pulled out of thin air – became the building blocks of modern music and are still in use to this day.

As producer and drummer Steve Jordan says, “You could’ve had Deputy Dawg on some of the stuff it would have been a hit because the tracks were just so incredible.” Being jazz musicians, the Funk Brothers, “could swing like crazy,” in the words of producer Don Was. Many of the musicians came from the Deep South, and were lured to the “Motor City” by the promise of jobs in the automobile industry. Some worked factory jobs during the day and played clubs at night, where they were recruited by Berry Gordy as early as 1958.

In 1959, Gordy bought a home at 2648 West Grand Boulevard and turned it into Motown HQ. A garage out back was converted into a recording studio which would produce some of the biggest hits of the ‘60s. Affectionately referred to as “The Snakepit,” it was here that the Funk Brothers worked out songs brought to them sometimes in skeletal form by the label’s noted stable of writers. Percussionist Jack Ashford shows how the musicians would work out their parts, piece by piece, until the arrangement we all know was finalized. Then, the entire group would perform the master take live. Ashford says they would cut four songs in a three hour session, two of which were expected to be master takes for singles. Think of that the next time you hear about a recording being slaved over for months or cut on someone’s laptop computer in their bedroom.

Not only is Standing In The Shadows Of Motown compelling and well done, it would influence countless music documentaries over the following decades. While 2013’s 20 Feet From Stardom and 2016’s Hired Gun explicitly copied its formula of bringing backing musicians to the foreground, its debt is also felt in films such as 2012’s Searching For Sugar Man and any music doc that tries to shine a light on artists who until then remained obscure. Of course all the music history lessons in the world wouldn’t mean anything without the heart and soul of the Funk Brothers story. Like the best groups, they were a true band of brothers. As guitarist Joe Messina says, “We had a friendship and I think that helped.” Footage of the wizened and graying musicians exchanging old war stories is as entertaining as any of the performances and as illuminating as the analysis of their recording sessions and techniques.

Genret: Dokumentti, Musiikki
Valmistusvuosi: 2002
Pituus: 1 h 44 min
Ohjaajat: Paul Justman
Maat: USA

Pääosissa olevia muusikkoja: Bob Babbitt, Eddie Willis, Joe Hunter, Joe Messina, Johnny Griffith, The Funk Brothers / Jack Ashford, Uriel Jones

ääni: Dolby Digital 5.1 & DTS & & Surr. / englanti
kuva: 16 : 9
tekstitys: suomi, ruotsi, norja, tanska
alue: 2, PAL
muuta: useita arvioita leffatykki.comissa
muuta: kuvaus IMDb.comissa: 7,8 points
muuta: kuvaus wikissä suomeksi

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