Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey [DVD]
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Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues - A series of 7 films by world famous directors in a luxury DVD boxed set. The Blues is a series of seven uplifting films by world famous directors who share a passion for the music.
The films, by Scorsese, Mike Figgis, Wim Wenders, Clint Eastwood, Charles Burnett, Marc Levin and Richard Pearce, capture the essence of blues music and delve into its global influence - from roots in Africa to its inspirational role in today's music.
FEEL LIKE GOING HOME Certificate: U
Director Martin Scorsese (The Last Waltz, Raging Bull, Gangs of New York) pays homage to the Delta blues. Musician Corey Harris travels through Mississippi and on to West Africa, exploring the roots of the music. The film celebrates the early Delta bluesmen through original performances (including Willie King, Taj Mahal, Otha Turner, and Ali Farka Toure) and rare archival footage (featuring Son House, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker).
RED, WHITE & BLUES A Film By Mike Figgis Certificate: 15
Director Mike Figgis (Stormy Monday, Leaving Las Vegas, Time Code) joins musicians such as Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Tom Jones, performing and talking about the British blues boom from the late 1950's onwards. A thoughtful and musically uplifting analysis of the influence of the blues on British musicians and the re-export of the music to America.
THE SOUL OF A MAN A Film By Wim Wenders Certificate: 12a
Director Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club; Wings of Desire; Paris, Texas ) explores the lives of his favorite blues artists — Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson, and J. B. Lenoir — in a film that is part history and part personal pilgrimage. The film tells the story of these artists' lives in music through a fictional film-within-a-film, rare archival footage, and covers of their songs by contemporary musicians, including Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams, Lou Reed, Eagle Eye Cherry, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Cassandra Wilson, Los Lobos, and others.
PIANO BLUES A Film By Clint Eastwood Certificate: 15
Director — and piano player — Clint Eastwood (Play Misty for Me, Bird, Unforgiven) explores his life-long passion for piano blues, using a treasure trove of rare historical footage in addition to interviews and performances by such living legends as Ray Charles, Pinetop Perkins and Jay McShann, as well as Dave Brubeck and Marcia Ball.
THE ROAD TO MEMPHIS A Film By Richard Pearce And Robert Kenner Certificate: PG
Director Richard Pearce (The Long Walk Home, Leap of Faith, A Family Thing) traces the musical odyssey of blues legend B.B. King in a film that pays tribute to the city that gave birth to a new style of blues. Pearce's homage to Memphis features original performances by B.B. King, Bobby Rush, Rosco Gordon and Ike Turner, as well as historical footage of Howlin' Wolf and Rufus Thomas.
WARMING BY THE DEVIL'S FIRE A Film By Charles Burnett Certificate: 12a
Director Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, My Brother's Wedding, To Sleep with Anger) presents a tale about a young boy's encounter with his family in Mississippi in the 1950s, and intergenerational tensions between the heavenly strains of gospel and the devilish moans of the blues. Including performances by Big Bill Broonzy, Willie Dixon, Lightnin' Hopkins, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Bessie Smith, Dinah Washington, Muddy Waters & Sonny Boy Williamson.
GODFATHERS AND SONS A Film By Marc Levin Certificate: 15
Director Marc Levin (Slam, Whiteboys, Brooklyn Babylon) travels to Chicago with hip-hop legend Chuck D (of Public Enemy) and Marshall Chess (son of Leonard Chess and heir to the Chess Records legacy) to explore the heyday of Chicago blues , as they unite to produce an album that brings veteran blues players together with contemporary hip hop musicians. Along with never-before-seen archival footage of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, are original performances by Koko Taylor, Otis Rush, Magic Slim, Ike Turner and Sam Lay.
It may have been underrated when first broadcast, but executive producer Martin Scorsese's homage to the blues is a truly significant, if imperfect, achievement. "Musical journey" is an apt description, as Scorsese and the six other directors responsible for these seven approximately 90-minute films follow the blues--the foundation of jazz, soul, R&B, and rock & roll--from its African roots to its Mississippi Delta origins, up the river to Memphis and Chicago, then to New York, the United Kingdom, and beyond. Some of the films (like Wim Wenders's The Soul of a Man and Charles Burnett's Warming by the Devil's Fire) use extensive fictional film sequences, generally to good effect. There's also plenty of documentary footage, interviews, and contemporary studio performances recorded especially for these films.
The last are among the best aspects of the DVDs, as the bonus material features the set's only complete tunes. Lou Reed's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" and the ElektriK Mud Kats' (with Chuck D. of Public Enemy) hip-hop-cum-traditional updating of Muddy Waters's "Mannish Boy" are among the best of them; on the other hand, a rendition of "Cry Me a River" by Lulu (?!) is a curious choice, even with Jeff Beck on hand. The absence of lengthier vintage clips, meanwhile, is the principal drawback. For that reason alone, Clint Eastwood's Piano Blues is the best of the lot; a musician himself, Eastwood simply lets the players play, which means we get extensive file footage of the likes of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Nat "King" Cole, as well as new performances by Ray Charles, Dr. John, and others. Overall, this is a set to savor, a worthwhile investment guaranteed to grow on you over the course of repeated viewings. --Sam GrahamSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
this documentary is perhaps the finest example of the myriad of styles of this cathartic music. the sheer depth of the documentary and its subject matter will instantly take you from the crossroads of ignorance to the electric realisation that you are a well informed and passioante exponent of this historic and meaningful genre. although i am not american, this documentary makes you realise that there is a sophistication and allure to their culture that in many ways goes undocumented.
whether you are a musician like me, or a hobo in the world of music you will learn an enormous amount from this collection.
there is unfortunately a major scar on the otherwise flawless face of this documentary. disc 5 - the godfather's dvd is a magical journey of music. the fatal mistake was made by the person who gave mr chess the microphone voiceover. if you can ignore his righteous swagger and self-congratulation, and realise that he is the only fraudulent aspect to this otherwise wonderful section of the documentary, you will love it. he ruins an otherwise wonderful section with prententions and shameless braggadoccio that makes the artists in the documentary squirm. but the music, and the voices of the artists fortunately drown his unbearably loud voice out!
i personally recommend discs one and seven as being the most uplifting introduction. ray charles involvement in this documentary is a beautiful celebration of his life. for those of you who love his music, you will learn to love the man even more!!
so turn down the lights, take a julep and tune in to the raw sound of the beautiful south, and the way they sing them blues.
There are numerous sub-standard blues collections out there, but this box-set, released to coincide with a huge documentary series and America's Year of the Blues, is a pretty good place to start. Arranged chronologically, some of the recordings date back as far as 1920. The first couple of discs range from Bessie Smith's impassioned jazzy wailings to the legendary country blues men such as Son House, Charley Patton and Robert Johnson. The final disc features some new stuff recorded especially for the series by the likes of Keb' Mo', Bonnie Raitt and, incongruously, Los Lobos, none of which is particularly essential. However, disc three is as perfect a blues compilation as you're ever likely to have, capturing the golden age of electric blues with some choice cuts from Bob Diddley, Muddy Waters, Elmore James and numerous other big names. And as this is as much historical overview as straight compilation, you even get Elvis and Chuck Berry thrown in for context. 25 tracks, and not a dud in sight, even if the selections tend to be a tad on the obvious side. Not that that matters when the source material is this good.
The handsome booklet boasts some erudite notes and great photos, although it would have been good to have included more of the British bands who did much to popularise blues again in the 60s. I suppose licencing precluded the Stones being on there.
Disc 1-3 are the motherlode. Disc 4 is okay, but could have been better, and disc 5 doesn't gain anything from the new tracks. In conclusion, a flawed but never the less worthy collection - a great introduction for novices and a nice way of replacing getting some classics together in one place for those already in the know.
Two of the directors try and innovate with dramatized incident, by far the worst of these is 'warming by the devli's
fire',by Charles Burnett. Wim Wenders' contribution, 'Soul of a man' is clunky but still has enough charm to get by.
All the others are effectively in the talking heads format with live contributions intermixed with stills and clips. Almost without exception the historic material dwarfs the new, sometimes embarrassingly so, Tom Jones, Chuck D., and when it doesn't its cut frustratingly short, T-Bone Burnette, Los lobos....... Eastwood and Richard Peace come up with the best films,probably because there enthusiasm for the music isn't swamped by the need to put their artistic stamp on it. Wish Ken Burns had been given the whole brief. Oh and get the book-its actually much better.
I have watched the seven films films in this box set over the last few weeks. I'm guessing that it would be too much to view in one sitting for most people, no matter how enthusiastic they are about the Blues. Any of the DVD's could be watched as a stand alone film as they are all distinctly different.
The seven DVD's are:
Feel Like Going Home by Martin Scorsese. Travelling from the Mississippi Delta to the Niger River and including Corey Harris, Taj Mahal, Johnny Shines, Keb' Mo', Son House, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker amongst others.
The Soul Of A Man by Wim Wenders. The music of Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson and J B Lenoir. With performances by Lou Reed, Cassandra Wilson and Beck amongst others.
The Road To Memphis by Richard Pearce and Robert Kenner. Pays tibute to B B King. With Rosco Gordon, Ike Turner and Howlin' Wolf amongst other.
Warming By The Devil's Fire by Charles Burnett. An account of a boy whose uncle loves The Blues but whose mother said The Blues was the devil's music. There is archive footage of Son House, Big Bill Broonzy and Bessie Smith amongst others.
Godfathers And Sons by Marc Levin. Levin brings together veteran Blues players with contemporary Hip-Hop musicians. With Koko Taylor, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Willie Dixon amongst others.
Red, White & Blues by Mike Figgis. Figgis traces the history of the British Blues scene and its implications. With Eric Clapton, Humphrey Littelton and Lulu with Jeff Beck amongst others.
Piano Blues by Clint Eastwood. Eastwood explores his passion for Piano Blues.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
an in depth look into the music that shaped a part of American culture, and had a large influence on many British musicians who came to world wide recognition. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ira Knopf
brilliant overall story of the blues.some sections drag on a bit.and I dont know if I could watch it all twice.Published 10 months ago by Peter Crowfoot