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Standing In The Shadows of Motown Reviews

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Eric B

Super Reviewer

June 10, 2012
Great: hearing the original Motown musicians play together and tell stories. Not great: fleeting-popularity guest singers like Joan Osborne, Ben Harper, Meshell Ndegeocello and Gerald Levert (not to mention a lot of ugly perms) that make the film seem badly dated just 10 years later. The occasional use of acted recreations is another dubious -- and unnecessary -- choice.
John B

Super Reviewer

October 19, 2012
A great exploration of the performers who don't get the measure of credit that they should - the background players. This is the story of those who can be heard on the hits but are lost in the credits. Very gifted and talented. I'm glad their story is told.

Super Reviewer

November 25, 2009
Fantastic documentary about a group of unknown musicians, self-named The Funk brothers who were the musical force behind so many of the Motown classics; partnering Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Smokey Robinson... name a hit, and chances are, they were playing on it. Narrated by Andre Braugher, the film for the most part keeps him in the background and lets the musicians speak for themselves, and they do in a series of gentle stories and anecdotes. mixed with sadness about the musicians they lost along the way. The reminiscing is interleaved with a recent reunion concert where, if you weren't convinced so far, they prove once again that their contribution to the Motown sound was priceless. If you're a fan of the music already, this is a must-see.

Super Reviewer

April 27, 2008

Super Reviewer

April 15, 2008
An excellent documentary about the Funk Brothers. What, you've never heard of them? Unfortunately, most people haven't either, despite the fact that they played on nearly every single Motown song ever recorded. Together, they've played on more number one hits than the Beatles, Elvis, the Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones combined. This documentary finally sheds some light on these fantastic musicians (several of whom have unfortunately passed on) and does so expertly, resulting in an immensely entertaining film experience. Highly recommended.
May 21, 2010
Standing in the Shadows of Motown is a 2002 docu-tribute to the studio musicians that manufactured Berry Gordy's Motown Sound. And it's a damn good one.

After 40 years, the surviving members reunite to back covers of almost two dozen Motown classics by an assortment of current artists such as Joan Osborne and Chaka Khan. (Khan is surprisingly somewhat less than soulful, but but Osborne definitely brings it home.)

Perhaps it is all staged for the camera, but still, even after all those years, this group of studio musicians looks very, very tight indeed.

Intermingled with the performances are interviews, history and personal reflections that bring these studio musicians - self-dubbed "the Funk Brothers" - and how they went about creating the Motown sound right on up into the limelight.

At one point someone states that these arrangements were so strong that they could have brought a chicken into the studio, "squeezed it by the neck on 2 and 4" and they would have had a hit.

And, indeed, this movie makes it quite obvious that we have all overlooked that it was these musicians - and their often improvised and inspired arrangements - as much as the lead singers that made these songs so strong.

The DVD extras include 13 of the tracks, back-to-back. At the end nearly one hundred eternally memorable Motown titles scroll - all attributed to The Funk Brothers.

RECOMMENDATION: This DVD provides hours of feel-good music video on demand. Recommended without reservation.
January 16, 2009
Great documentary...never knew the details about any of that stuff...

Could have done without Joan Freakin' Osbourne mangling some of the songs...
March 2, 2008
Pretty much everyone knows Motown- its founder Berry Gordy Jr., the many hits it cranked out, or its lasting influence on pop music. However, this documentary, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, gives many music fans, if not Motown fans, a history lesson. Perhaps it can be seen as a tribute, or long overdue recognition to the men who gave Motown every drum beat, horn blast, tambourine shake, bass line, keyboard plink, and the muscle heard on every hit. Calling themselves the Funk Brothers and well deserving of the name, each of the members tells their story, and their roles in the Motown hit machine. It also serves live performances with the surviving Funk Brothers on different Motown cuts with Gerald Levert, Joan Osborne, the colorful Bootsy Collins and others. The live performances are definitely no slouch here. For music fans and those who still dig the Motown sound, pick this one up. May the Funk Brothers live on.
March 10, 2007
Alot of people know the Motown hits but not many know the story of the musicians that made the Motown sound. This is a classic!!!
January 27, 2007
I love this movie. I always watch it for the music. I've always been a big fan of Motown music, so this was a big deal for me to watch.
April 9, 2014
Great documentary on the most unsung heroes of music. As is mentioned in the movie, and anywhere you see them mentioned, The Funk Brothers played on more Number 1 singles than the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys and Elvis Presley combined. Yet hardly anyone has heard of them. I certainly hadn't, and my musical knowledge is pretty good. (Though, admittedly, I do lean more towards rock than soul).

This documentary examines the history of the Funk Brothers, and also has some made-for-the-movie performances by them, complete with vocals by luminaries such as Ben Harper, Bootsy Collins, Joan Collins, Chaka Khan.

The documentary part is well done, covering all the important aspects of their history, as well as interviewing the surviving members. Musical performances are great.

A must-see for a Motown fan, or anyone interested in the history of music.
April 28, 2012
A loving tribute to the forgotten legends of Motown.
April 13, 2012
The best documentary ever. I've watched it countless times and still can't get enough. Somehow it lifts my spirit every time I watch, imfeelma real connection with the Funk Brothers. Isaac J . Zimbabwe Africa
October 16, 2011
A wonderful documentary about the Funk Brothers, a group of musicians' musicians who never got their due. Insightful, touching and funny, intercut with fine live performances. Required watching for anyone who is into Motown and soul in general.
Chris E.
September 17, 2009
A wel deserved pat on the back for the men behind the music.
June 18, 2004
couch tomato
May 31, 2004
[font=Book Antiqua]:fresh: :fresh: :fresh: O O[/font]
[font=Book Antiqua]Those guys were ripped off! I lost alot of respect for the Motown singers, Hitsville USA, producers of that era. I'm thankful that the musicians had an outlet for their magical creativity, but in their avoidance of working in factories, they still ended up in Detroit-style production- only in the industry of music. Great music, nice to hear the stories from the living members of Funk Brothers. The film was not put together that well, as Buena Vista Social Club was, but it's great that it was done at all. [/font]
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