1998: Blues Brothers 2000 [Various Artists]
Blues Brothers 2000
Rated as: Album
Album Status: Historically Interesting
Specific Genre: Soul Blues, Rhythm&Blues
Main Genre: Blues, R&B
Undertones: Soul, Blues, Electric Blues, Chicago Blues
How good’s a mess like that gonna sound anyway?
Difficult to judge this on the merits: Neither the movie nor the soundtrack as such work, ironically due to their central commodity: the «Blues Brothers», at least in this incarnation. With four Blues Brothers, one for every movie demographic of the late 1990s (no sisters), the concept falls apart – they all can perform, but only their blandest addition can sing. Now, focusing on the otherwise involved music and the musicians, the story is slightly different. Opting for maximalism with 18 tracks and more genres than can be traced back to Son House, the soundtrack is an all-star hodgepodge of every (!) available old and new star of Blues&Rock, R&B and Funk&Soul, turning in respective, sometimes inspired performances – like a tribute album turned into a revue show for the participants. This mostly good music is interrupted regularly by the insipid Blues Brothers, tenaciously insisting that they are the ones bringing you an archive of 20th century music legends by taking up these legends’ time on the album. Each of the Brothers’ tracks ends up a new low point of the CD, as it climaxes with a ten-year-old in a suit bellowing “Turn On Your Love Light!” at me.
Having said that, let’s do the honours: Aretha Franklin and Matt “Guitar” Murphy reprise their respective roles and turn in joyful performances each, Erykah Badu und Paul Shaffer pairing up in a campy “Funky Nassau” rendition is surprisingly tangy – and having Dr. John performing Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” in his voodoo-psych-blues appears campy but turns out to be an inspired choice. The grand finale of the fictive ‘Louisiana Gator Boys’ playing B.B. King’s “How Blue Can You Get” is flippant, but there are more legendary musicians in this band than outside of it (I feel the need to mention Koko Taylor). The sheer density of musical potency in that scene and that track boggles the mind (it doesn’t translate: there is not room for two dozen people to display their wildly individual talents in the setting of one song). While the initial sketch/movie/album was fueled by love and respect for its musical sources than is commonly acknowledged, I can’t help but by sympathetic for the project of giving the greats a podium here.