The Blues Brothers to me, up until recently at least, were but the subject of a rather amusing film with a killer soundtrack. Not having Saturday Night Live here in Australia, I had no idea they were a live act from that show who finally finagled themselves a film deal.
And so, herein we have a chronological collection of their better performances on that show and beyond in a retrospective look back (from 1993). As a companion piece to the film it is excellent, as it showcases the events leading up to the film and those beyond. While not featuring interviews and technically not being a documentary, it does still feature a single film-long interview and documented facts discussed by Dan Aykroyd.
Allow me to explain…
Some reporter, (Tom Davis) is having a discussion with Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) in a seedy bar room with a bad actor waitress taking orders. As Elwood leaves, Dan Aykroyd arrives and continues the discussion with Tom. Then he leaves and Elwood comes back and so on and so on…
There are actual moments of computer enhanced shots with all three sitting together and such, but the whole thing does seem a little too contrived in this format for the impact of the solid facts of the interview to sink in.
That being said, for fans of the dynamic and historical significance that is The Blues Brothers phenomenon, this will be a somewhat stilted but still worthwhile investment to put together the shady past of ‘Joliet’ Jake Blues and brother Elwood.
Taken in part (the performances mostly) from an older video source the picture leans toward some softer edges around half the time. The ‘newer’ scenes in the bar room are of better quality, but still hover menacingly around the TV format of lesser resolution. Overall, however, the video quality is quite passable (and in some cases would be all there is anyway). The colour then is bound to fluctuate throughout, as do the qualities of black and shadow detail. One good thing though sees us suffering very little by way of film decay or artefacts.
Audio is in the dual purposes of Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Digital 2.0 and both do pretty much the same job. The 5.1 just stretches the music into the surrounds mostly, but this is a nice immersive experience if you’re that deeply into the music (which sounds pretty cool, I gotta say).
As to extras, there is a loot bag (with a dollar sign on it) of stuff, but most are in a text-based information manner.
A History of the Blues Brothers contains eight pages of text while the discography delivers a comprehensive seven pages of albums and smaller releases and performance info.
The Band features ten individual biographies plus text pages of all Elwood’s Speeches from the various Blues Brothers performances (17 in all).
John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd biographies and filmographies follow with the original liner notes from the debut Blues Brothers album Briefcase Full of Blues.
Then follows an incredibly detailed Blues Brothers Trivia Game (in which I wasn’t good enough to learn if they give a prize at the end or not) followed by a gallery of 11 pics. This features posters and album covers, plus one or two promotional photos of the boys.
Overall, this is quite a comprehensive retrospective on The Blues Brothers that any fan is bound to find informative and entertaining. Look past the obviously made for TV and stilted interview piece and instead concentrate on the performances that made them what they are. This also includes the debut performance on the air in which the band find themselves dressed as big bees for their opening track I’m A King Bee.
On that subject, I’d best give you the run down of tracks included here:
- I’m A King Bee
- I’ve Got Everything I Need (Almost)
- Can’t Turn You Loose
- B-Movie Box Car Blues
- Soul Man
- Messin’ With The Kid
- Groove Me
- Flip, Flop & Fly
- I Don’t Know
- Hey, Bartender
- Jailhouse Rock
- Rubber Biscuit
- Shotgun Blues
- Soul Man (alternate version).
This is for anyone ever on a mission from God…