STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN (Cert PG)
Dir: Paul Justman
Stars: The Funk Brothers, Joan Osborne, Bootsy Collins, Chaka Khan
Running Time: 108 min
Release Date: July 25th 2003
Unsung heroes for 40-odd years, Motown’s multi-ethnic ‘house’ band the Funk Brothers played on more hit records than the Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys and Elvis combined. Assembled from Detroit’s auto plants and jazz clubs, they virtually invented the sound of countless 60’s classics but, unlike groomed-for-success frontmen such as Marvin Gaye and Smoky Robinson, were constantly segregated from their success. This documentary homage finally throws the spotlight where it belongs.
Whether riffing on the creation of their legendary hits or powering through them at a special reunion concert - accompanied by frankly second string musos like Joan Osborne and Bootsy Collins the sheer character and charisma of the surviving Brothers effortlessly propels the film over occasionally awkward dramatic reconstructions and the conspicuous absence of surviving Motown stars, particularly label svengali Berry Gordy, the man who kept them in the shadows. Not simply an overdue correction to the history of soul music, but an invaluable testament to its enduring power.
* * * * (four stars)
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