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The Essentials: The Blues Brothers

The Blues Brothers

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Album Review

This 2003 release compiles tracks from the Blues Brothers' two live albums and The Blues Brothers soundtrack. Of the 12 songs, five come from 1978's Briefcase Full of Blues, five from 1980's Made in America, and two from 1980's soundtrack. The songs from Briefcase Full of Blues are the highlights; tracks like "Messin' With the Kid," "Rubber Biscuit," and the huge hit "Soul Man" are loose, full of fun, and alive with soul — they capture a cultural moment and will have you dancing around the room. The two tracks from the soundtrack, "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," are less successful; Joliet Jake and Elwood need a raw, live setting to shine — coop them up in a studio and their flaws (mainly weak vocals) are very obvious. By the time Made in America was released, the Blues Brothers' schtick was wearing a bit thin (Elwood sounds especially dorky on his molasses-slow rendition of the Robins/Coasters' "Riot in Cell Block #9"), the music was sounding a bit tired and overly professional, and the covers less obscure. There is enough energy in the presentation to make the music fun, but it doesn't have the same punch that the first record did. An essential Blues Brothers release would probably have more songs from the first record, less from the second, and a couple more tracks from the soundtrack, like the funky "She Caught the Katy." You might as well choose The Definitive Collection. It sells for about the same price but has 20 songs instead of 12, including seven from Briefcase; takes more songs from the movie, including Aretha Franklin's storming version of "Think" (but not "She Caught the Katy" for some reason); and has a weird version of "Expressway to Your Heart" unavailable elsewhere.

Biography

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Whether celebrated as a sincere tribute or derided as a tongue-in-cheek put-on, the Blues Brothers — Joliet Jake and his silent brother Elwood — was among the most popular groups of the late '70s; what started as a skit on the hit NBC television sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live quickly snowballed to become a true phenomenon, complete with hit records, a sold-out concert tour, and even a feature film. Clad in vintage black suits, narrow ties, fedoras, and omnipresent wrap-around...
Full bio
The Essentials: The Blues Brothers, The Blues Brothers
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