Standing in the Shadows of Motown

( 6 )

Overview

The history of soul music and the Funk Brothers, which is also a history of popular culture, is the subject of Standing in the Shadows of Motown and Artisan has done a brilliant job bringing this title to DVD. In today's style of documentary filmmaking, with grainy black-and-white mixed with beautiful color photography, the 1.78:1 anamorphic image really shines. Colors are vibrant and wonderfully saturated, while detail is quite strong for a documentary. Things only get better when it comes to the soundtrack. ...
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Overview

The history of soul music and the Funk Brothers, which is also a history of popular culture, is the subject of Standing in the Shadows of Motown and Artisan has done a brilliant job bringing this title to DVD. In today's style of documentary filmmaking, with grainy black-and-white mixed with beautiful color photography, the 1.78:1 anamorphic image really shines. Colors are vibrant and wonderfully saturated, while detail is quite strong for a documentary. Things only get better when it comes to the soundtrack. Presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES, these tracks are full of life, especially during the music numbers. Bass is strong and surrounds are used appropriately. While the movie itself would be worth the price, an amazing selection of extra features make this one a real deal. The movie is on the first disc, along with a commentary track from producer Allan Slutsky (he wrote the book that inspired the film) and director Paul Justman. Also included is a brief section called "How It All Began," which includes a short commentary from Justman about a photograph that helped influence the direction of the film and a promotional short film to help with financing, and contains additional interviews from the Funk Brothers. Finally, for the first disc, is an optional text "fact track" with even more information about these performers and the times they lived in. The second disc houses the remainder of the supplements, and there are plenty. Four featurettes comprise the bulk of material. The first, "Dinner With the Funk Brothers" is a roundtable with the artists as they discuss their love, friendship, and appreciation of those they worked with. The next is "The One's That Didn't Make It," which is a very emotional and sincere elegy for those band members that are no longer with us. In addition to this is "At Long Last Glory," covering the new-found success of these musicians due to this film, and the fourth is a biography section, told in a video for the Funk Brothers, and text for the main crew members. Nearly 30 minutes of deleted scenes are also included, with most being behind-the-scenes material. While hardly revelatory, they are a welcome addition. Next is a "multi-angle" jam session, also in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Fine music, but with only two angles, it doesn't offer much. Finally, along with a music video montage that is only so interesting, is a trailer for The Temptations, discographies, and "Honorable Mentions," describing other artists who worked for Motown. Last, but not least, are some DVD-ROM materials, including an high-definition version of the entire film and an interactive virtual recording studio. Enough praise can't be given to this disc and for the extra mile that Artisan went to make it as good as it is.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Disc 1:; Widescreen 16:9; Audio commentary with director and producer ; 6.1 DTS-ES/5.1 Dolby-EX/2.0 Dolby Stereo; Subtitles - English and Spanish ; Trivia track ; Song selections/Performances; How it all began: "The Photo That Started It All," "The Video That Started It All"; BMWfilms.com presents The Hire: A Series of Short Films (Hostage, Ticker, Beat the Devil); ; Disc 2:; Dinner with the Funk Brothers; Multiangle jam sessions ; Deleted scenes; The ones that didn't make it ; At long last glory ; Funk Brothers video biographies ; Music video montage ; Selected discography; Honorable mentions; Hi-resolution - DVD-ROM playble version; Interactive - Virtual recording studio
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Some unsung heroes of pop music get long-overdue recognition in Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a heartfelt documentary directed by Paul Justman. They called themselves the Funk Brothers, a talented group of a dozen or so musicians who were recruited by Berry Gordy from the jazz and blues clubs of Detroit to record the musical tracks for Gordy's Motown label. Although they worked in relative anonymity, these studio musicians were responsible for a staggering number of soul and R&B hits. The Funk Brothers backed up the Supremes, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and a host of other Motown luminaries, only to be all but abandoned when the label moved to L.A. in the early 1970s. Standing in the Shadows allows the surviving Funk Brothers to tell their own story, and they tell it well, anchored by the sheer charm of keyboardist Joe Hunter and percussionist Jack "Black Jack" Ashford. Together, they paint a vivid picture of the close-knit musical collaboration that churned out hit after hit in Motown's Studio A (a basement room known affectionately as "the snake pit"). But even more time is spent profiling those Funk Brothers who are now "here in spirit," notably drummer Benny "Papa Zita" Benjamin, keyboardist Earl "Chunk of Funk" Van Dyke, and, at the center of it all, the legendary bassist James "Igor" Jamerson. Jamerson's story may be the most moving: He's portrayed as the genius who, though largely responsible for the distinctive Motown groove, labored in obscurity while battling drugs and the personal demons that would ultimately claim his life. While Jamerson's story best exemplifies the film's tragic element, Standing in the Shadows is ultimately a celebration of these talented musicians, climaxing in a triumphant Funk Brothers reunion concert in Detroit at which a host of artists -- including Joan Osborne, Ben Harper, Bootsy Collins, and Chaka Kahn -- perform such Motown classics as "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," and "What's Goin' On?" It's hard to imagine a more effective tribute to these legends than Standing in the Shadows of Motown: It's a family portrait made with love that's a feast for both the ears and the heart.
All Movie Guide - Andrea LeVasseur
In a small basement studio in Detroit affectionately called "the Snakepit," a group of studio musicians called the Funk Brothers created the magical and influential Motown sound. Though the pop songs were number one hits for vocalists Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and Stevie Wonder, the session musicians went largely uncredited and fell into obscurity. Director Paul Justman brings these unknown artists into the forefront for a reunion concert and reflection on the history and personalities of the era. The warmly humorous personal stories are just as informative about studio recording practices as they are funny, with each bandmember finally getting a showcase of their individual contributions and playing style. In particular, bassist James Jamerson and pianist Earl Van Dyke are shown as powerful presences in the group. In addition to the affectionate recollections, the group reunites on-stage to play the old favorites with contemporary vocalists. Joan Osborne lends her soulful voice to "Heat Wave," Bootsy Collins brings his own interpretation to "Cool Jerk," and Chaka Khan teams up with Montell Jordan for the finale number "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Suspiciously missing from this reunion is information about the group's relationship to Berry Gordy. Any resentment for lack of credit, compensation, or loyalty is overpowered by the fond memories and the result is left to mystery. Though slightly marred by unnecessary reenactments, Standing in the Shadows of Motown is an entertaining and enlightening portrait of these overlooked musical legends.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/22/2003
  • UPC: 012236137801
  • Original Release: 2002
  • Rating:

  • Source: Lions Gate
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Surround, Dolby Digital Surround EX, Digital Theater Systems
  • Time: 1:50:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 8,327

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard "Pistol" Allen
Jack "Black Jack" Ashford
Bob Babbitt
Johnny Griffith
Joe Hunter Participant
Uriel Jones
Joe Messina
Eddie "Chank" Willis
Benny "Papa Zita" Benjamin
James Jamerson Jr.
Eddie "Bongo" Brown
Earl "Chunk of Funk" Van Dyke
Robert White
Joan Osborne
Gerald LeVert
Me'Shell NdegéOcello
Bootsy Collins Participant
Ben Harper
Chaka Khan
Montell Jordan
Tom Scott
Andre Braugher Voice Only
Technical Credits
Paul Justman Director, Producer
Richard Adler Associate Producer
Affiliated Models & Talent Casting
Keith Benson Associate Producer
Christine Claussen Casting
Walter Dallas Screenwriter
Jonathan Dana Consultant/advisor
Paul Elliott Executive Producer
Anne Erikson Editor
Janice Ginsberg Associate Producer
Ted Greenberg Sound/Sound Designer
Michael Martin Associate Producer
Douglas Milsome Cinematographer
Sandy Passman Producer
Mary Petryshyn Co-producer
Dave Scott Executive Producer
Ntozake Shange Screenwriter
Al Slutsky Musical Direction/Supervision, Producer, Sound/Sound Designer
Julie Smith Casting
Lon Stratton Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Disc One
1. Main Title/Unheralded Dreamers [4:18]
2. Days of Innocence/Detroit [1:12]
3. Gerald Levert "Reach Out I'll Be There" [1:32]
4. "Who Are the Funk Brothers?" [3:42]
5. Joan Osborne "(Love Is Like a) Heatwave" [3:21]
6. Fearless James Jamerson [4:00]
7. Fantasyland in Studio A [2:18]
8. Meshell Ndegeocello "You Really Got a Hold on Me" [2:41]
9. One Chance, One Take [3:09]
10. Bootsy Collins "Do You Love Me" [2:00]
11. Touring Days [4:09]
12. Benny "Papa Zita" Benjamin [2:47]
13. Gerald Levert & Tom Scott "Shotgun" [3:12]
14. Johnny Griffith and the Man Around Town [6:59]
15. The Motown Formula [1:10]
16. Ben Harper "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" [3:32]
17. Earl Van Dyke and the Raw Power [3:46]
18. He Ain't Spying, He's My Brother [2:40]
19. Bootsy Collins "Cool Jerk" [2:12]
20. Earthbound and Unknown [3:16]
21. Typewriters and Tambourines [2:06]
22. Ben Harper "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" [3:31]
23. Heckyl, Jeckyl & Son [2:31]
24. Eddie "Bongo's" Licks [1:29]
25. Joan Osborne "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" [4:16]
26. Robert White and His Oreos [3:37]
27. Meshell Ndegeocello "Cloud Nine" [3:06]
28. Up to the Babbitt Standard [3:21]
29. No Question of Race [4:05]
30. Chaka Khan "What's Going On" [3:38]
31. When Motown Left [3:15]
32. The Funk Brothers [1:40]
33. Chaka Khan & Montell Jordan "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" [2:46]
34. Hitsville, U.S.A. [:48]
35. End Credits [5:26]
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Menu

Side #1 -- Disc One
   Play Movie
   Chapters
   Audio Set-Up
      Subtitles
         None
         English
         Spanish
      Trivia Track
      6.1 DTS/ES
      5.1 Dolby EX
      2.0 Dolby Stereo
      Commentary by Director Paul Justman & Producer Allan Slutsky
   Special Features
      How It All Began
         The Photo That Started It All - Producer Photo Commentary by Allan Slutsky
         The Video That Started It All- Director Promotional Video Commentary by Paul Justman
      Performance Selections
         Play All
         Gerald Levert- "Reach Out I'll Be There"
         Joan Osborne- "(Love Is Like a) Heatwave"
         Meshell Ndegeocello- "You Really Got a Hold on Me"
         Bootsy Collins- "Do You Love Me"
         Gerald Levert & Tom Scott- "Shotgun"
         Ben Harper- "Ain't Too Proud to Beg"
         Bootsy Collins- "Cool Jerk"
         Ben Harper- "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"
         Joan Osborne- "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
         Meshell Ndegeocello- "Cloud Nine"
         Chaka Khan- "What's Going On"
         The Funk Brothers
         Chaka Khan & Montell Jordan "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
      BMWfilms.com Presents the Hire
      Trailer Gallery
         The Temptations
         Chart Topping DVDs
      More Special Features
         Standing in the Shadows of Motown
Side #2 -- Disc Two
   Dinner With the Funk Brothers
   Multi Angel Jam Sessions
      1
      2
      3
      Play All
   Deleted Scenes
      Play All
      Funk Reunion Montage
      Martha Reunion Montage
      Springtime Montage
      The Producers Montage
      Studio "A" Stories Montage
      Speaking in Code Montage
      The Motown Sound Montage
      Michelle & Pistol Allen Montage
      Martha's Dream
      Basement Jam
      Pistol & Johnny Jam
      Pistol & Treaty Jam
      James Jamerson Jr. Jam
      Joe, Seth & Joan Jam
      Baker's Keyboard Lounge Jam
   The Ones That Didn't Make It
   At Long Last Glory
   Biographies
      Play All
      Joe Hunter
      Johnny Griffith
      Eddie Willis
      Richard "Pistol" Allen
      Joe Messina
      Uriel Jones
      Jack Ashford
      Bob Babbitt
      Earl Van Dyke
      Eddie "Bongo" Brown
      James Jamerson
      William "Benny" Benjamin
      Robert White
      Director- Paul Justman
      Producer- Allan Slutsky
      Producer- Sandy Passman
   More Features
      Music Video Montage
      Funk Brothers Discography
         Start Feature
      Honorable Mentions
      DVD Rom Content
      Credits
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The Funk Brothers ARE the Motown sound

    Whether you enjoy the Motown sound or are just interested in music and the history of popular music, this is a DVD that should be in your collection. It's probably one of the best documentaries I've seen on the sounds of the '60s and early '70s.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    5 STARS

    What a great movie! I completely enjoyed every moment of it, for so many different reasons. The performances were amazing, by both the outstanding singers and the heavenly performers. The anecdotes were hilarious. The whole movie was put together nicely. Well worth the money!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    I Wish I Could Give It Ten Stars

    Lock in the repeat, unplug the phone, put on your dancing shoes and let the music take you away. This documentary WILL win an Academy Award! If not the whole process will need an overhaul! I give it a dancing ovation. From the first note to the last, be prepared to be thrilled. As an ''Old School'' Motown fan (long before this film, I cursed Berry Gordy for moving to California), and a music lover in general, I say to you.... BUY 2 COPIES, because you are going to wear this DVD out!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great mix of music and history

    The cover of Standing in the Shadows of Motown makes a provocative statement: ''They played on more #1 records than the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley combined.'' But if you're like me, you've never heard of them. Even if you're not the Motown fan that I am, I bet you HAVE heard their music though. They were the band for artists like Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Temptations, and countless others to draw fame from the Motown label, yet, even to this day, they are virtually unknown. Meet the Funk Brothers. I learned a lot from this video, which is an excellent mix of documentary and music. Even if you're not interested in history, I'd recommend this video just for the sheer pleasure of listening to the music. I watched it when no one else was home, cranked up the TV to a volume I rarely get to otherwise, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Make no mistake, this movie is mostly music--good, solid Motown music. Great anecdotal stories told by the surviving members of the band and narrated history weaves around the music, but the information was so unfamiliar to me that I never got bored with the narration. Music is so integral to these artists' lives and personalities that many of the interviewees couldn't help but hum or pluck out notes while they spoke. As this movie demonstrates, the Funk Brothers were consummate creators without whom we'd have missed so much of our musical heritage that it's frightening. I sincerely hope that more people will rent and buy this video so that the Funk Brothers can finally realize some of the recognition they so richly deserve. Highly recommended. Five stars.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews