Standing in the Shadows of Motown

In 1959, Berry Gordy Jr. gathered the best musicians from Detroit's thriving jazz and blues scene to begin cutting songs for his new record company. Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on every hit from Motown's Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined - which makes them the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music. They called themselves the Funk Brothers. Forty-one years after they played their first note on a Motown record and three decades since they were all together, the Funk Brothers reunited back in Detroit to play their music and tell their unforgettable story, with the help of archival footage, still photos, narration, interviews, re-creation scenes, 20 Motown master tracks, and twelve new live performances of Motown classics with the Brothers backing up contemporary performers.


Every serious musician, especially rhythm section players and students of music, should own or at least see Standing In The Shadows of Motown.

Released back in 2002, I just now saw this DVD and wished I had seen it much sooner. It was a real joy to see the remaining Funk Brothers play, speak of their departed colleagues, and reminisce all of their experiences and memories of sessions at Hitsville, U.S.A.

When you watch/listen to this movie / documentary, you'll notice that the music and sound truly was generated by the musicians and not the artists the Funk Brothers were playing for. Joan Osborne, Chaka Khan, Bootsy Collins and others were guest vocalist on the disc ... and yet the music sounded just like the Detroit days of Motown! Amazing!

Another treat is disc two which a round table discuss over dinner with the remaining Funk Brothers. You get to hear more stories and comments by the musicians as well as read the biographies and checkout the long list of hits they helped make.

If you are playing in a cover band, you especially need to checkout Standing In The Shadows of Motown. You can see and hear how the master drummers / percussionists themselves, Richard 'Pistol" Allen, Jack Ashford, Benny 'Papa Zita' Benjamin, Eddie 'Bongo' Brown and Uriel Jones, made these songs groove — including their fills and techniques. I personally had picked up a lot of these licks decades ago, just listening to the original recordings, but now you can SEE what they did ... like never before.

Do yourself a favor and add Standing In The Shadows of Motown DVD to your music / DVD library; you'll be glad you did!

And I also recommend the sound track to this documentary movie ... Standing in the Shadows of Motown CD.