Soundtracks I Have Loved: The Blues Brothers

Soundtrack: The Blues Brothers
Year Released: 1980
I Bought It On: Cassette
How Does It Hold Up?: Still not one clunker on the whole thing.

Side 1
1. She Caught The Katy
2. Peter Gunn Theme
3. Gimme Some Lovin'
4. Shake A Tail Feather
5. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
6. The Old Landmark

Side 2
7. Think
8. Theme From Rawhide
9. Minnie The Moocher
10. Sweet Home Chicago
11. Jailhouse Rock

There are other soundtracks I've loved more, but none are as consistently great as the soundtrack to The Blues Brothers. I picked it up sometime toward the end of grammar school (didn't pick it up on the day it was released, because I was 3 and, hence, couldn't likely operate a cassette player), either right after seeing the movie for the first time or maybe even before (certainly before seeing the unedited version, which really sucks the power out of the scene where The Penguin smacks Jake and Elwood around). And it was right around the same time that I bought the Best of the Blues Brothers cassette featuring what quickly became my Absolute Favorite Number-One Song of All Time (Or At Least Until I Own More Than 20 Cassettes), "Rubber Biscuit."

I soon became obsessed with The Blues Brothers, thus adding one more item to the list of Things That Made the Teenage Girl of the Early 1990s Think I Was the Hottest Dude Ever. A lot of guys would have just stopped at putting on an uncomfortable amount of weight and being obsessed with professional wrestling, but I went a step further, declaring my favorite band was a cover band from a decade-old movie. It is this devotion to thoroughness that has served me well throughout my life.

Of course, calling the Blues Brothers a cover band is a little unfair, because, while they didn't do originals and, thus, easily fill the bill of being a cover band, the guys in the cover band--Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn of Booker T and the MGs, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, "Blue" Lou Marini, Alan "Mr. Fabulous" Rubin, Tom "Bones" Malone, Willie "Too Big" Hall, and Murphy Dunne (replacing Paul Shaffer in the movie)--were pretty phenomenal. And therein lies the greatness of the Blues Brothers. If Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi have a mediocre band behind them, the whole thing falls flat. But the fact that they've got a top-flight group behind them elevates the project from a well-meaning goof to something worth hearing over 30 years later.

There's not a bad moment on the soundtrack (the closest are, I guess, the "Peter Gunn Theme," "She Caught the Katy," and "Jailhouse Rock," which would easily be the three best songs on any other soundtrack), so it's hard to single out the best moments. But, hey, let's try to at least get the top three in line. And let's go with Ray Charles first.

What? You prefer Aretha? OK. Get some dry white toast and four fried chickens and enjoy this little snippet, which cuts off the song but features all of the fantastic acting chops of Matt "Guitar" Murphy, criminally overlooked by the Academy in 1980.

And long before he played the last song Apollo Creed would ever hear, James Brown established his movie soundtrack cred with "The Old Landmark." It's one of the greatest music scenes in movie history. See the light.

And it's not just the guests that provide all the good stuff on the soundtrack (though I should also give props to Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher"). The opening to the gig at the Palace Hotel Ballroom, "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" (preceded by the non-soundtrack "I Can't Turn You Loose"), is probably the best of those (then again, the closer to the show was pretty good, too).

And, of course, for those denizens of Bob's Country Bunker (shame on you for not letting them finish "Gimme Some Lovin'"), here's your top jam (though you also dug this non-soundtrack number).

The Blues Brothers' legacy has taken some hits over the years (let us mention Blues Brothers 2000 here and never speak of it again), but the soundtrack still stands tall as one of the all-time best. And it led me--and likely many others--to gain a greater appreciation for and love of the blues (kudos also to the criminally soundtrack-less Adventures in Babysitting and Albert Collins for that). So, thanks, Jake, Elwood, and the boys. Your mission from God was a success.

1 comment:

Jesse said...

Rubber Biscuit gets fairly decent play on Kids Place Live (the XM/Sirius kids' channel). I think that's cool.