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.