Lightning in a Bottle

Lightning in a Bottle

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You’d have to look far and wide to find a concert bill filled with as many impressive blues and other popular music artists as the February 7, 2003, Radio City Music Hall concert “Salute to the Blues.” Among the featured guests were Allison Krauss, Angelique Kidjo, Mos Def, Natalie Cole, and India Arie as well as Odetta, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, Solomon… See more details below

Overview

You’d have to look far and wide to find a concert bill filled with as many impressive blues and other popular music artists as the February 7, 2003, Radio City Music Hall concert “Salute to the Blues.” Among the featured guests were Allison Krauss, Angelique Kidjo, Mos Def, Natalie Cole, and India Arie as well as Odetta, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, Solomon Burke, and B. B. King. The two-CD set is the soundtrack to the Martin Scorsese–produced film of the same name. Constructed as a blues trip from Africa to the Delta to Chicago, then spreading out to include blues branches as far-reaching as rap, the album is a stirring testament to the current vitality of the music. The first striking element is its pristine sound. This is a set so bright that Angelique Kidjo comes right into your living room with her soaring “Senie Zelie,” which begins the concert. The artists stay right there with the listener through B. B. King’s closing “Sweet Sixteen.” This is partially due to a relatively stable house band that lends some unity to the sound. And many of these players are already icons: Dr. John, Levon Helm, Ivan Neville, Danny Kortchmar, and Steve Jordan are among the house band members. There are enchanting and endearing moments, astonishing revelations, humor, and pathos on Lightning in a Bottle. Avant-garde guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer plays and sings a straight-ahead version “Sitting on Top of the World” with Allison Krauss’s fiddle recalling the importance of the instrument in the Mississippi Sheiks’ original version of the song. Odetta brings the civil rights struggle into the present with her concise but powerful introduction to “Jim Crow Blues.” Natalie Cole tries to distance herself from the blues -- as many popular African-American artists have done over the decades -- by saying “I don’t know why I’m here.” But then, drawing on the style of Dinah Washington, she sings a rousing “St. Louis Blues.” Cole also joins blues-based singers Ruth Brown and Mavis Staples for the humorous “Men Are Just like Street Cars.” David “Honeyboy” Edwards’s acoustic “Gamblin’ Man” is a Delta delight. Buddy Guy’s acoustic “I Can’t Be Satisfied” and his electric “First Time I Met the Blues” show this giant’s versatility. Solomon Burke delivers the soul of the blues like no other; the listener can almost see his luxurious cape being removed as he heats up “Turn On Your Love Light.” Contemporary blues artists Shemekia Copeland and Robert Cray give “I Pity the Fool” the fire and ice of Bobby Bland’s original interpretation. In many roots music tributes, rock artists come off as if they were looking in the mirror rather than connecting with sounds that laid the groundwork for rock ‘n’ roll. That is not the case with Lightning in a Bottle. John Fogerty is so humble in introducing “The Midnight Special” that he says “I hope I don’t mess this up” before performing a joy-filled and totally appropriate version. There could be no better rock stars than Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to cover the braggadocio and sexually charged “I’m a King Bee.” Bonnie Raitt’s slide guitar on Elmore James’s “Coming Home” is true to both the roots and the fruits of the blues. Chuck D’s performance, in contrast to the other hip-hop artists on the bill, is both smart and interesting. The rapper turns John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” into an antiwar anthem, “(No) Boom Boom.” While keeping the drive and beat of the original, Chuck D and the band move in and out of tune, taking its intensity to new heights. The net proceeds from the concert, the film, and this recording go to the Blues Music Foundation, which supports blues artists who have fallen on hard times or never made it to the big time. That generosity and the spirit of these tribute CDs make this monumental album a deal that no one should turn down.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
Lightning in a Bottle is the double-disc soundtrack to the documentary film of the same title directed by Antoine Fuqua and shot at a February 7, 2003, concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Billed as a "Salute to the Blues", the show featured veteran blues musicians as well as a younger generation of players and artists either directly working in the genre or deeply influenced by it, and the running order follows the evolution of blues from Africa, up the Mississippi, and through Chicago and beyond. With a crack house band of Steve Jordan and/or Levon Helm on drums, Dr. John on piano, Willie Weeks on bass, and Danny Kortchmar on guitar, Lightning in a Bottle has quite a few high points, including Macy Gray's version of Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog," Bonnie Raitt's "Coming Home," and the deep Southern gospel soul of Solomon Burke on "Turn On Your Love Light." Also impressive is David "Honeyboy" Edwards' stark and haunting solo acoustic rendering of "Gamblin' Man." Mavis Staples arguably stole the show, however, with her huge, shuffling, and ominous take on Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean." The shifts and mutations of the blues from an acoustic music to an electric one are traced, ending in Chuck D and the Fine Art Militia's thundering rap version of John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom." The CD set lacks some of the music actually performed in the film, however, so the best way to catch this moving concert in its entirety is on DVD, which also includes backstage footage and interviews.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/21/2004
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0827969286029
catalogNumber:
92860

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. Senie Zelie
  2. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
  3. Gamblin' Man
  4. Love in Vain
  5. Sitting On Top of the World  - James Blood Ulmer
  6. Jim Crow Blues
  7. St. Louis Blues  - Natalie Cole
  8. Men Are Just Like Street Cars
  9. I Can't Be Satisfied
  10. Strange Fruit
  11. Hound Dog
  12. The Midnight Special
  13. Where'd You Get That Sound

Disc 2

  1. Okie Dokie Stomp  - Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
  2. Coming Home
  3. The Sky Is Crying
  4. I'm a King Bee  - Steven Tyler
  5. The First Time I Met the Blues
  6. Big Chief
  7. I Pity the Fool
  8. Killing Floor
  9. Turn on Your Love Light
  10. Down in the Valley
  11. Voodoo Child
  12. Minnesota Blues (aka Black Jack Blues)
  13. No Boom Boom
  14. Sweet Sixteen

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Robert Cray   Guitar,Vocals
Buddy Guy   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Odetta   Vocals
Hubert Sumlin   Guitar
Alison Krauss   Fiddle
Gregg Allman   Organ,Vocals
Solomon Burke   Vocals
Natalie Cole   Vocals
Dr. John   Piano,Wurlitzer
John Fogerty   Guitar,Vocals
David Johansen   Vocals
Aaron Neville   Vocals,Tambak
Neville Brothers   Piano,Vocals
Ivan Neville   Organ,Drums,Pump Organ
Joe Perry   Guitar
Bonnie Raitt   Guitar,Vocals
Ruth Brown   Vocals
Charles Neville   Vocals,cowbell
Larry Johnson   Guitar,Vocals
Vaneese Thomas   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
James Blood Ulmer   Electric Guitar,Vocals
Larry Taylor   Acoustic Bass
Kim Wilson   Harmonica
Warren Haynes   Guitar,Vocals
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown   Guitar,Vocals
Ben Cauley   Trumpet
Chuck D   Vocals
Kimati Dinizulu   Conga
David Honeyboy Edwards   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Babi Floyd   Background Vocals
Jack Hale   Trombone
Levon Helm   Mandolin,Drums,Maracas
Jim Horn   Baritone Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Angélique Kidjo   Vocals
B.B. King   Guitar,Vocals
Curtis King   Background Vocals
Danny Kortchmar   Dobro,Guitar,Guitar (12 String Acoustic)
Andrew Love   Tenor Saxophone
Cyril Neville   Conga,Vocals
Vernon Reid   Guitar
Mavis Staples   Vocals
Steven Tyler   Harp,Vocals
Willie Weeks   Bass
Keb' Mo'   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Dobro
Brian Hardgroove   Bass,Background Vocals
Dominic Kanza   Acoustic Guitar
Shemekia Copeland   Vocals
Victoria Burke   Keyboards
Macy Gray   Vocals
Wes Little   Drums
Steve Jordan   Drums,Bass Drums
India.Arie   Vocals
Fine Arts Militia   Accompaniment
Brad Craig   Guitar

Technical Credits

Lead Belly   Composer
Neville Brothers   Artwork
W.C. Handy   Composer
Jerry Leiber   Composer
James Blood Ulmer   Arranger
Alan Lomax   Composer
Bert Berns   Composer
P. Davis   Composer
Kimati Dinizulu   Contributor
Jimi Hendrix   Composer
Elmore James   Composer
L.A. Johnson   Composer
B.B. King   Composer
Huddie Ledbetter   Composer
Clarence Lewis   Composer
Deadric Malone   Composer
Eurreal Montgomery   Composer
James Moore   Composer
McKinley Morganfield   Composer
Don Robey   Composer
Morgan Robinson   Composer
Mike Stoller   Composer
E. James   Composer
Randy Ezratty   Engineer
Tisha Fein   Producer
Dave Natale   Engineer
Martin Scorsese   Producer
Mos Def   Composer
Joe Bihari   Composer
Joseph Scott   Composer
John Harris   Engineer
Steve Jordan   Producer
L. Allen   Composer
Traditional   Composer
R. Arthur Johnson   Composer
C. Glenn Burnett   Composer
Abe Vélez   Packaging Manager
Earl Johnson   Composer

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