KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

THE BLUES BROTHERS – The Most Important Artist Of My Generation?

Are The Blues Brothers the most important artist of my generation? Read on to find out why I think this could be the case.

I started writing this post two weeks ago, postulating that The Blues Brothers might be the most influential band of my generation. Then I got extremely busy at work, which put this post…and my thoughts about this subject…on hold. It did, however, allow me enough time to revisit the three albums released by the original incarnation of the The Blues Brothers Photo (on SNL)group, as well as the original artists’ recordings of songs that The Blues Brothers first introduced to me when I was between 12 & 14 years old. When I finally returned to this post a few days ago I realized that “influence” is only one aspect of their greatness. Some readers might scoff, but now I’m suggesting that The Blues Brothers are the most “important” artist of my generation. By the end of this post I hope to convince some skeptics that this is a reasonable argument, even if you don’t agree.

For clarification purposes, I should point out that I was born in 1966 and came of age in the ‘70s & ‘80s. Legendary artists like Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The The Blues Brothers Photo (from Briefcase Full Of Blues)Velvet Underground, Black Sabbath, David Bowie, and even my favorite band of all time, Led Zeppelin, were all around prior to my immersion into music by the mid-’70s, so I don’t consider any of them “my generation” (which reminds me that The Who should also be included on that list) even though I love them all. For many people in my age group, it’s often argued that punk acts like The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and The Clash wielded the most influence and have had the longest-lasting impact, while others might cite The Smiths, Michael Jackson, R.E.M., Metallica or Nirvana. It’s hard to argue against any of those artists even though, with the exception of R.EM., none of them are among my favorites, but as a musician since I was 8 and an obsessive music collector for almost as long, I believe that The Blues Brothers are important in more ways than any artists that began their careers during my musically formative years.

Background, The Debut Album and That Killer Band

If you’ve read this far you’re probably already familiar with The Blues Brothers, but I should still provide a brief history. The group was started by Saturday Night Live cast members John Belushi (aka “Joliet” Jake) and Dan Aykroyd (aka Elwood) in 1976 after a sketch where the house band played the old blues song, “I’m A King Bee,” with The Blues Brothers - Briefcase Full Of BluesBelushi & Aykroyd dressed in the “killer bee” costumes which had become such a popular recurring gag during that first season. In 1978 they made two appearances on SNL as The Blues Brothers and opened for comedian Steve Martin at L.A’s Universal Amphitheater, where their debut album Briefcase Full Of Blues (1978) was recorded. The band featured SNL mainstay Paul Shaffer on keyboards along with a stellar lineup of musicians, including Stax Records legends (and Booker T. & The MG’s members) Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn on guitar & bass, respectively, future David Letterman/Keith Richards drummer Steve Jordan, blues guitar legend Matt “Guitar” Murphy and the amazing horn section of Alan Rubin, Tom Scott, Tom “Bones” Malone and “Blue Lou” Marini. Since 1978 each of these players has been a huge inspiration to me, and it helped that their names were highlighted throughout the album by Belushi, showing that the musicians were every bit as important as the frontmen and the songs they were playing.


Hit Movie and Resurrected Artists

Many people are probably most familiar with The Blues Brothers via the brilliant over-the-top comedy/action/musical film The Blues Brothers and its accompanying Original Soundtrack Recording (1980). I saw it in the theater during opening weekend and a few more times after that, as well as dozens of times on TV in the ensuing The Blues Brothers - Original Soundtrack Recordingyears. Not only was the film hilarious and endlessly quotable, but it also shone a light on some performers who were at a commercial nadir (Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, James Brown, John Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway), all of whom appeared on screen and won over this 14-year-old viewer…and millions of others too. I’m not sure how many white kids from Staten Island were listening to these artists at the time, but thanks to The Blues Brothers they now account for 50-60 CDs in my collection. In addition to the artists who appeared in the film, the list of legendary performers & record labels that I discovered via The Blues Brothers’ albums expanded my musical horizons far beyond anything I would have experienced without them. Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Solomon Burke, Taj Mahal, Booker T. & The MG’s, Wilson Pickett and even Randy Newman are just some of the artists that eventually became part of my musical journey, and labels like Atlantic, Chess, Motown & Stax became bastions of greatness that I continue to explore so many years later. It’s hardly surprising that Atlantic released all three Blues Brothers albums, including a chart-topper and a Top 20 record.


Musical Diversity

Their performances on SNL offered a brief glimpse into the showmanship of Jake & Elwood, while their debut album The Blues Brothers Photo (circa 1980)allowed listeners to hear the diversity of styles they covered: rhythm & blues, soul, funk, reggae and…of course…blues. The film expanded the backstory first established in the liner notes of Briefcase Full Of Blues, adding a much-needed visual component and allowing the musicians & performers to take center stage while never losing the plot. The main story arc, where Jake & Elwood set out on “a mission from God” to reunite the band, made it clear to me at an early age why every musician is essential. This didn’t just apply to The Blues Brothers but to every band I’ve played in and listened to.


That Incredible Horn Section

The aforementioned horn section ignited my love of horns ever since the first time I played Briefcase Full Of Blues. From large brass sections like Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, Tower Of Power and Blood Sweat & Tears to artists as diverse as James Brown, Huey Lewis & The News and Van The Blues Brothers Photo (from Original Soundtrack)Morrison, I immediately smile whenever I hear a cleverly arranged horn chart. I was fortunate to play in a cover band during college that featured a 3- to 5-piece horn section (depending on the players’ availability) and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a more exhilarating feeling on stage than drumming away behind that wall of brass. Naturally, a couple of Blues Brothers songs were featured in our set: the “I Can’t Turn You Loose” fanfare (originally by Otis Redding), “Hey Bartender” (originally by Floyd Dixon, as well as a ska version by Laurel Aitken) and “Soul Man” (originally by the incomparable Sam & Dave).


The Underrated Third Album

Their final album, Made In America (1980), was recorded live at the same venue as their debut. At the time it seemed The Blues Brothers - Made In Americalike a disappointment, and it was their least commercially successful record, but over time I realized that it might be the most diverse album in their brief catalog. In addition to blues, soul & funk covers of Wilson Pickett, The Bar-Kays, James Brown, The Contours and Booker T. & The MG’s, they also included a stirring rendition of the theme from the TV show “Perry Mason.” This showed me that even incidental music like a TV theme song can be incredibly musical in the right hands. They also introduced me to the Lieber & Stoller composition “Riot In Cell Block No. 9,” which I’ve since heard by many different artists, as well as Randy Newman’s piano ballad “Guilty.”


Highlighting Their Influences

One of the joys I had in preparing this post was checking out the original versions of songs that I had never heard before. On the debut album, Jake implores people to “buy as many blues albums as you can” and to check out artists like The The Blues Brothers Photo (with Ray Charles)Downchild Blues Band, a Canadian group they championed via killer renditions of “(I Got Everything I Need) Almost” and “Shot Gun Blues.” Listening to the originals now, I can hear why they were so enamored of this group. Over time I’ve heard the majority of the original versions, but a few had slipped under my radar until the past few weeks, notably “Rubber Biscuit” by The Chips, “Going Back To Miami” by Wayne Cochran, “Messin’ With The Kid” by Junior Wells, “‘B’ Movie Box Car Blues” by Delbert McClinton and several others. In most cases the originals are the definitive versions, but part of The Blues Brothers’ greatness was adding a cool ‘70s rock ‘n’ roll attitude to every song they played. Their references to sex, alcohol & marijuana were also educational to me as an adolescent, yet my parents had nothing to worry about, something I would credit to the cartoon nature of their personas (the band, not my parents).

The Blues Brothers Photo (with Aretha Franklin)


Summary

As discussed above, here are the reasons why I think The Blues Brothers are so important:

* They introduced an entire generation (and others that followed) to some of the most exciting & groundbreaking artists & songs of all time. The fact that the majority of these artists were black while most of their fans were white was no small feat.

* Their name may include the word “blues” but they covered so much musical ground over a short period of time without a single song sounding out of place. Only the most gifted musicians can pull that off. I would have eventually come around to reggae, funk, soul, ska and various forms of blues, but my education on these genres started much earlier thanks to The Blues Brothers.

* Although most casual fans are only aware of Belushi & Aykroyd, every member of the band was an essential component of their sound. Thanks to them, I’ve always scanned the credits on every album I own for the names of the musicians, and to this day if someone mentions Lou Marini my immediate response is, “Blue Lou!”

The Blues Brothers Photo (from Made In America)

* Their debut album went to #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart and their movie was a huge hit in theaters & subsequently on home video. I realize that album sales & chart positions don’t always go hand-in-hand with musical quality, but in this case the cream really rose to the top.

* Belushi wasn’t technically a very good singer and Aykroyd was only a decent harmonica player, but they turned these limitations into strengths, providing yet another lesson to future generations of musicians: If you play with passion & integrity you can create great music, regardless of your skill level.

* Some fans might dock them points for not writing their own songs, relegating them to a cabaret act. This is a point that’s hard to argue, since there are so many incredible artists who have written & produced their own songs, but I can’t think of many (from my generation, at least) that had the same wide-ranging cultural impact as The Blues Brothers.

The Blues Brothers Photo (from movie)

So am I completely off-base here? Is there another artist from that era who ticked as many musical boxes as The Blues Brothers, and whose work still sounds great today while pointing new fans to the source material? Please let me know your thoughts in the Comments section.

I’ll leave you with the original version of “(I Got Everything I Need) Almost” by The Downchild Blues Band:

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59 comments on “THE BLUES BROTHERS – The Most Important Artist Of My Generation?

  1. dagersh
    August 26, 2014

    I don’t know…I think you’re going a wee bit overboard here. Yes, they were much better than one would have had reason to expect, and often a lot of fun, but “most important of our generation”? No, I would very strongly disagree. The farthest I’d be willing to go is that they were the best cover band of that era — and that had everything to do with the amazing musicians in their band. Belushi and Ackroyd deserve kudos for song selection (if the selection was indeed theirs) and good taste, and that’s about it. They may have impacted you as a kid, educating you (and others) to the world of the blues, but I would argue that a “most important” artist would have to have had a lasting impact on the direction of music in the years following. The Blues Brothers may have helped spread the gospel of blues and soul (very literally, in the movie’s famous church scene with James Brown and Aretha Franklin), but beyond that, there is little influence that I can see. I’d give someone like Stevie Ray Vaughan a lot more credit for truly bringing blues to the masses in roughly that time period.

    Sorry, my mistake: Aretha wasn’t in the church scene…

    Like

    • Hi dagersh. Yep, I might have gone slightly overboard here, but I wanted to remind my readers of how great a band The Blues Brothers were and how influential & inspiring they were to so many musicians & music lovers. One of the biggest points I tried to make here is how they exposed generations of fans to more than just blues & soul. In just a few short albums they covered those styles plus reggae, funk, dramatic TV theme songs, Nuggets-style garage rock & more. I’m a huge SRV fan and there’s no doubt that he exposed blues to the masses. Excellent observation.

      I should point out here that I never actually stated that I think The Blues Brothers ARE the most important band of my generation. My goal was to add them into the mix, since they’ve been largely overlooked for many years.

      I really appreciate you stopping by & sharing your thoughts on this topic.

      Best wishes,
      Rich

      Like

  2. 80smetalman
    August 26, 2014

    The Blues Brothers came about in my senior year and being a big Saturday Night Live fan at the time, I scarfed this album up immediately. Everything you say in your post is spot on about them. It did open my mind to the blues more and appreciate some of the more older artists. Well written.

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    • I’m glad we shared a similar experience with The Blues Brothers’ music. Were you also a fan of the movie, or just the album & SNL appearances? I find it hard to turn off the movie anytime I stumble on it as I click through the channels. It still makes me laugh & the music never fails to inspire me.

      Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate it.
      Rich

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      • 80smetalman
        August 26, 2014

        I saw the movie and loved it. I reviewed both the soundtrack and Briefcase Full of Blues on my own site.

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      • I will be checking out those reviews soon, and I invite any of my readers who are scrolling through these comments to do the same since you do excellent work at your blog.

        Cheers!
        Rich

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      • 80smetalman
        August 26, 2014

        Thank you very much for the compliment Rich

        Like

      • My pleasure. You earned it. Hope you’re having a great music-filled day.

        Like

  3. mikeladano
    August 26, 2014

    Great history lesson here. I didn’t know 70% of these faces. Very cool. Now I want to watch the first movie again!

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    • Thanks Mike. Glad I could be of service. As long as you stay away from Blues Brothers 2000 and stick with the original movie you’ll be fine. I watched that one once but it lacked just about everything that made the first movie such a classic. Good music, of course, but it wasn’t good enough to make me want to see it a second time.

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      • mikeladano
        August 26, 2014

        Good to know, Rich. We own the first one but not 2000. I have never seen 2000 in fact. So it’s a one-watcher, you would say? If I see it on TV or Netflix, go for it?

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      • I only saw Blues Brothers 2000 once and I have very little recollection of it. As I recall it wasn’t a complete waste of time but it’s not in the same league as the original. How could it be?

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      • mikeladano
        August 27, 2014

        Nothing could be. It was of its time.

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      • Daddydinorawk
        August 27, 2014

        Totally agree. The 2nd film should have never been made. At least they got the original band from the film. Total cash grab from Ackroyd and I think they did John a great disservice by not even including Jim Belushi who was at the time performing with Ackroyd as the Blues Brothers. I love John Goodman but I still don’t get that choice.

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      • Aykroyd probably felt that another film would recapture the magic of the original and continue the work he started with John Belushi, but it’s also possible that it was done simply to keep the “brand” alive. I’m glad it gave additional exposure to those incredible musicians, but as a film it was pretty much unnecessary.

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      • Bismo Beerbelly
        September 4, 2014

        As an owner of two Blusmobile replicas (one from each film) I’m biased, but I’d stand up for Blues Brothers 2000 a little bit… yeah, as a comedy it was derivative of itself and unoriginal and so didn’t shine, but musically I think it stands on even footing with the first film and in the end, it’s the music I’m there for! I’d also disagree it was meant as a cash grab, Aykroyd really wanted to keep the music and the Blues Brothers themselves going after John had died, and knew how many people (myself included!) who had discovered great music through the first film and he wanted to do that again, bringing in new musicians like B.B., Charlie Musselwhite, Koko Taylor, Jonny Lang and many others to try and give them the exposure the artists from the first film benefited so much from. (I’ve heard both BB and James Brown at their own concerts through the 90s talking about Belushi & Aykroyd and feeling a debt to them.) Lastly, it was absolutely the intent to include Jim Belushi in the second movie but he was contractually tied up with a TV series at the time and couldn’t participate.

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      • Thanks for your feedback, Bismo. I wasn’t sure if there were any Blues Brothers 2000 fans out there but now I know there are. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I only saw the movie once and wasn’t terribly impressed, but maybe I was being overly critical at the time & unfairly comparing it to the original movie (which is close to untouchable). Of course the music was fantastic and I’m glad artists like Koko Taylor got some much needed mainstream exposure.

        Cheers!
        Rich

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  4. ianbalentine
    August 26, 2014

    Amazing the difference 2 years can make! I was born in ’68, and this movie totally passed me by. I was more of an Animal House and Rocky Horror kind of a guy (talk about great soundtracks!). Animal House seemed to me at the time, well, boring. Even for a budding music fanatic like me. Where you went the classic/roots route, I went the new wave/punk route. I have since come around quite a bit, especially when it comes to funk and soul of the late ’60’s/’70’s, but blues, like jazz, has always been more of a curiosity than an obsession. More of a Motown man vs a Stax/Volt guy. Still…great post, as always, sure to shake it up!!

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    • Thanks for the feedback, Ian. Glad you enjoyed this post. I was also an Animal House fan (still am) but I could never fully embrace Rocky Horror (even though I worked in a theater for more than a year in the early 80s where we showed it at midnight every weekend). As for our musical tastes at the time, we didn’t diverge as much as you might imagine, although I was less enamored of punk than you were. As much as I got into roots music, I also got heavily into artists like Blondie, Pretenders, The Cars, Graham Parker and Joe Jackson (my favorite of that era).

      As for curiosity vs. obsession, that’s how I still am about punk. I like it but can’t see myself ever immersing myself in it.

      Best wishes,
      Rich

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  5. ianbalentine
    August 26, 2014

    I meant “Blues Brothers seemed kind of boring to me at the time”, not Animal House…

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  6. Gary
    August 26, 2014

    I would also say that most important of your generation (which is also my generation) is pushing it. The Blues Brothers were fun and there was some great music there, but as far as turning you on to all that other music, wasn’t the movie, not the band, a big part of that?

    Perhaps a more accurate statement would be “The Blue Brothers is the most important music movie of my generation!”.

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    • Hi Gary. I knew I might be pushing it with this suggestion, but keep in mind that I’m referring to more than just the movie. The impact that their debut album had on me when I was 12 was absolutely huge, and it led me to dozens of classic artists that I might never have discovered otherwise. And with millions of copies sold, I know I can’t be the only one.

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  7. Sarca
    August 26, 2014

    I was first introduced to this great film at 19 (1993) – my first year of university. I found it funny, but the music itself wasn’t as appreciated until I got more versed in the blues over time. Revisited the film after I was married and was absolutely delighted. The movie was still funny, but the music was incredible!
    Great write-up!

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    • Hi Sarca. Don’t you just love revisiting something (an album, a movie, a TV show) years later and have a completely new appreciation for it? You’re obviously a few years younger than me so The Blues Brothers wouldn’t have had the same impact on you as they did on me, but it’s good to know my assumption that later generations were inspired by the music wasn’t off-the mark.

      I really appreciate your feedback. Hope you’re doing well.

      Best…
      Rich

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  8. "Vinyl Connection"
    August 26, 2014

    As you may have picked up from my own blog ramblings, Rich, I’m one who tries to avoid rankings, comparative merit competitions and absolutes. Everything is relative.

    Having inserted my caveat, I was reminded by your informed and informative post how wonderful those gateway moments are for young people. Those films, albums, or experiences that open up new vistas of art and culture. Great to celebrate this!

    Often our enduring passion (especially as music collectors) is a still-burning flame from those heady, early days. You’ll have yours, I mine. For me, the Blues Brothers soundtrack is a favourite covers albums and a lively reminder of a terrifically entertaining film. Though it wouldn’t make my ‘500 Albums I Love’ list, I enjoyed being reminded of the things that make it such a solid effort and I loved your enthusiasm.

    Cheers.

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    • Thanks so much for the thoughtful commentary, Bruce. I really appreciate it. I’m also not someone who speaks in absolutes, hence the question posed by this post. As you might have noticed, I never answered my own question. I just wanted to put their name out there as one of the most important & influential artists in my life…and I assume that some people will feel the same. At the very least, I wanted to reintroduce their music as something special & separate from their personae.

      Also, as much as I love the movie & soundtrack, nothing comes close to their debut album. Sure it’s a covers collection but it functions as a complete work. Playing it again last month for the first time in several years was the catalyst for this post.

      Hope life is good in Australia.
      Rich

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  9. Peter Gugger
    August 27, 2014

    My first thought was, “You’ve got to be kidding Rich! That’s like saying the Commitments were the most influential artists of the ’90’s”. As usual your arguments are well made but my feeling is they only really apply to a U.S. audience. Not having been exposed to SNL, I would contend that to most people, certainly here in Australia, “The Blues Brothers” is a movie not a band. Hence “Vinyl Collection” for example talks about the movie soundtrack where as you, if I’m reading you correctly, regard it as a Blues Brothers album. That said I totally agree that they openened up a whole world of music that otherwise we might not have discovered – not unlike The Commitments movie did 11 years later.
    Keep ’em coming.
    Peter Gugger

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    • Daddydinorawk
      August 27, 2014

      Very good point. The Commitments is a very good film, but it was set up for the film specifically while the Blues Brothers was an entity to base the film around. The Irish Blues Brothers and Sisters!

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    • Hi Peter. That’s a good point about The Blues Brothers probably appealing more to a US audience, even though they were successful in other countries and the music they championed is universally loved. Of course, this post wasn’t meant to be taken completely seriously, but I wanted to point out how important they were to me on so many levels and I imagine many others in my age group feel the same way. Their impact shouldn’t be overlooked simply because they started out as a comedy-show sketch & they were a cover band.

      The Commitments was a great movie, and there are probably a number of people who came of age when it was released who cite it as a major influence on their musical education. Of course, the difference is that they were mostly amateur & semi-pro musicians who were put together for the sole purpose of the movie. The guys in The Blues Brothers had played together in various bands and many of them had appeared on the original classic recordings of the songs they covered.

      I also want to clarify that the Blues Brothers movie came out four years after their first SNL appearance and two years after their chart-topping debut album, so I don’t see them as a “movie band.”

      I appreciate your feedback and I hope you don’t take this discussion too seriously. If it helps expose the musicality of The Blues Brothers to even a handful of people who may have dismissed them in the past, then my work here is done.

      Cheers!
      Rich

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      • Peter Gugger
        August 28, 2014

        My point exactly Rich, you don’t see the Blues Brothers as a movie band because you’d already been exposed to them for four years via SNL and their first album. It took a while for the rest of us to catch up and realise the band members already had very impressive credentials. Rest assured I appreciate the tongue in cheek nature of this blog’s title but I think it might just have more merit than you think.
        Cheers, PanchoPete

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      • Thanks again for putting this in perspective for me, Pete. I knew it was probably a generational thing but obviously it’s mostly a US-based phenomenon.

        Best…
        Rich

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  10. Daddydinorawk
    August 27, 2014

    Rich, I wanted to read the article again before I posted a comment. The second time I also read it from a different perspective noting the question in your postulation and not reading it as an argument as I did the first time. That being said you have made some good points about the Blues Brothers here and I would have to agree that this argument is indeed a reasonable one.

    Main points here: This type (if you will) of music in itself, Blues/R&B/Soul is by nature music that is ripe to be deconstructed, rearranged, adapted into current forms. The blues being the basis for modern popular music, the form itself goes back a long time and has been adapted to its current time for almost exactly as long. So to isolate the Blues Brothers as merely a cover/tribute act is missing the point. Thereby making your argument valid.

    I would therefore consider your favorite band Led Zeppelin (even though their era superseds your own) to be more important due to this aspect. They took the basis of their music, the blues, deconstructed and adapted (they weren’t the first) it to fit more modern forms and the framework was laid. Taj Mahal is another (She Caught the Katy) who regarded the music in a completely different way and broke it down in a way that made sense to him and enabled musicians from a similar time and place (California in the 60’s/70’s) to regard the music and interpret it in ways that made sense to them. What the Blues Brothers did was pay tribute, but they didn’t develop the music. Maybe thats not the point, but it slides them into being slightly less important than a similar act who might actually take it and adapt it. I don’t know who such an act of this generation might be.

    This is one of my favorite films and I love every single moment, every note, every line.

    Who wants an Orange Whip?

    Like

    • Thanks for giving this post another shot. I really appreciate it. Clearly it’s not to be taken too seriously…my readers should know by now that I never talk in absolutes and would never suggest that something is clearly “the best” or “most important” of all time. I just like starting conversations about music I love and music I’m re-discovering. Glad you feel that my suggestion here is a valid one.

      You made some great points regarding Zeppelin, Taj Mahal & especially that The Blues Brothers paid tribute as opposed to moving the music forward. I can’t argue with that. This is where the caveat of “my generation” comes into play. They’re clearly not groundbreaking, earth-shattering or mind-blowing like so many key acts of the ’50s, ’60s & early-’70s, but what they did within the framework of a “tribute act” shouldn’t be overlooked by music fans simply because they weren’t “real.” Okay, I’ve put way too many words & phrases in quotation marks. I should probably stop here.

      Thanks again for your thought-provoking comments…and for confirming that The Blues Brothers movie is a stone-cold classic.

      Best wishes,
      Rich

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  11. Craig
    August 30, 2014

    Rich,

    Amazing blog! The Blues Brothers, like the best cover bands, inspired me to seek out the original artists and introduced me to music I might not have heard otherwise. But, I owe you for the heads up on the Downchild Blues Band! I picked up some of their CDs after reading your post and am enjoying some new music.

    Love the blog — keep up the good work.

    Regards,
    Craig

    Like

    • Thank you, Craig. I really appreciate the positive feedback, but I’m most pleased about you giving The Downchild Blues Band a listen. I’m slightly ashamed at myself for waiting so long to give them a shot, but better late than never. I will definitely be picking up some of their releases in the near future. Hope you’re having a great weekend.

      Best wishes,
      Rich

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  12. Wayne
    September 1, 2014

    Rich,

    I have to visit your blog more often! This is great stuff—-I am cut from that 60’s leather you talk of and I do consider “The Clash” my soul band—–BUT-I am happy to say that I had the good fortune to catch Jake and Elwood in concert and the show was GREAT! They were professional in every sense of the word—no warm-up—they played for an hour-took a long intermission so we could all drink more and use the facilities- and then played for another hour—the place was (SPAC) was rockin! John Belushi was a madman and Aykroyd kept him under control -maybe they were not technically perfect but they more than made up for it with heart and conviction—and—and the band was tight!
    I only wish that The Clash has even 10% of that heart and professionalism when I caught them— they were completely mailing it in and absolutely horrific by contrast.

    Keep up the good work,

    Wayne

    Like

    • Thanks for venturing out of the Cave and stopping by my blog, Wayne. I hope you’re doing well and back to 100% healthy. You are officially the only person I know who had the pleasure of seeing The Blues Brothers in concert. I don’t think they played that many shows, with just two short tours (in ’78 & ’80, I believe), so consider yourself lucky. I’m glad you appreciate their musical prowess & enjoy their music as much as I do. As for The Clash, I only saw them once (opening for The Who at Shea Stadium in ’82). I thought they were really good but I wasn’t that passionate about their music.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, and for the kind words about my blog.

      Best wishes,
      Rich

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  13. themesongsteve
    September 5, 2014

    Nice, thought-provoking post! I saw the Blues Bros. live in Dallas. Great show, great band. I believe, though, that their greatest value is as promoters of the original artists, and all of those originals, in my opinion, did the better versions of the songs. Still, I have no problem with the fact that they did covers. Some performers are not songwriters and some songwriters should not be performers.

    I’m an older guy, so not qualified to make a generational call. But my uncle, born in about 1940, always said The Blues Brothers was his all-time favorite movie.

    Like

    • Thanks so much for stopping by. Your blog looks great and I’m happy to follow it. I will check out some of your earlier posts when I have a little free time. Regarding The Blues Brothers, it sounds like we’re pretty much in agreement, and I like your point about performers & songwriters. Excellent observation. Thanks for sharing that anecdote about your uncle. Considering he was 40 when that movie came out, it shows that their impact wasn’t just on MY generation.

      Best wishes,
      Rich

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Charley Krebs
    September 12, 2014

    I agree totally with this column. I am 10 years older and did catch the hey-day of the big rock acts. It was some of those acts that turned me onto the blues… but the rock hey-day was anything but a hey-day for the blues. And I live in Chicago… I saw this first-hand. The Blues Brothers provided a ‘shot in the arm’ and notoriety to a scene that, while having its local stars with some great recordings, was in a down-spin nationally and internationally, save for the great third-act of Muddy Waters career (courtesy of Johnny Winter and Eric Clapton). The Blues Brothers got the ball rolling and soon SRV and Robert Cray would move it further… today I believe the blues scene is consistently great with new talent emerging even now. Thanks again for stating the case for the Blues Brothers.

    Like

    • Hi Charley. Thanks so much for stopping by & sharing your insight. I’m very glad you agree about the importance of The Blues Brothers in the dissemination of the blues and other genres to future generations. It’s true that many of the big rock acts of the ’60s helped to shine a light on all the classic blues performers & their songs, but The Blues Brothers were much more overt in their championing of those artists and they did it during the era of disco, punk & new wave. I’m not saying they’re any more important than those earlier rock artists but they deserve as much of the credit for keeping the blues alive until the next generation (like SRV & Robert Cray, as you mentioned) carried on the tradition.

      I really appreciate your feedback.
      Best wishes,
      Rich

      Like

  15. federico
    October 14, 2014

    Hey Rich,
    as an Italian who was 17 when the movie was released (no SNL until much later around here), I surely agree with you.
    On that afternoon of December 1980 I went (alone!) to see this hilarious picture, attracted by something I really can’t explain, I didn’t know anything about Belushi, Aykroyd, blues in any of its different variations, Stax. And I think Motown for me was just a synonymous of Stevie Wonder.
    From then on I entered in a new world where I discovered the most part of the great artists you’re mentioning in your interesting article. I’ve also seen a number of live shows from B.B. King to The Four Tops or The Temptations, from Cab Calloway to the complete Blues Brothers Band which was touring the world at the end of the 80s. And Aykroyd+Belushi (Jim…) too!
    Moreover, this is my crazy collector side, literally stunned by that wonderful movie, I started my ongoing collection about everything’s Blues Brothers related, not only music, of course (only three albums + a few bootlegs), but posters, pictures, videos and gadgets of any sort gathered together from every place in the world, now filling an entire room at home!
    I’m (unfortunately) not a musician, but as you see I can easily say my life has been influenced in many ways by that incomparable act…

    Like

    • Hi Federico. Thanks so much for sharing your history with The Blues Brothers. I find it very interesting that you saw the movie with no previous knowledge of Belushi & Aykroyd, and never having seen SNL. It confirms my assumption that the movie works on its own as a showcase for great humor and amazing music, and now I know that it had universal appeal that wasn’t just confined to the US. As much as I love the movie, though, I will always have a special connection to “Briefcase Full Of Blues” for the reasons I stated in this post.

      Again, thanks so much for stopping by I really appreciate your input into the conversation.

      Best wishes,
      Rich

      Like

  16. DanicaPiche
    October 15, 2015

    Hi Rich,
    Well, I agree with you. It’s no small feat to bring the blues into the mainstream popular culture, which they accomplished via SNL not to mention the movies, albums and performances. Incidentally, I didn’t know that they started as an SNL skit.
    They have also stood the test of time. I saw the movie recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. I probably saw it a long time ago but don’t remember much so it wasn’t about reminiscing.
    You raise an important point about their limited musical skills. They did demonstrate that passion is the most important component of music, and the blues in particular. The fact that they got such an incredible lineup of blues artists to join and/or collaborate speaks for itself.
    I do love the blues. Thanks for this post, Rich. I’m not sure how I missed it the first time around.

    Like

    • Hi Danica. Thanks for checking out this post on The Blues Brothers. I’m glad you also appreciate their important contribution to spreading the gospel of blues, soul and R&B. It’s interesting that you weren’t aware that they started as an SNL skit. I wonder if your opinion on their music would have otherwise been different. Probably not, as you have excellent & discriminating musical taste, and the quality of their performances shine through for future generations.

      Cheers!
      Rich

      Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        October 16, 2015

        Hi Rich, I believe that they were very influential. I didn’t watch much TV and probably see more TV shows now on DVD than ever in my life, although I still don’t have a TV set. Or Netflix. I wonder whether they were taken less seriously because of their SNL origins? Probably not, I’d guess. The lineup that joined them was stellar.
        Thank you for the compliment on my excellent and discriminating musical taste and right back at you.
        – D.

        Like

      • You don’t own a TV? Not sure I understand that concept. Haha. I guess there’s a whole generation growing up watching movies on their phones & tablets, but I still like a big screen and multiple choices of crap to watch. As for The Blues Brothers, they were hugely popular for a brief period but I think a lot of musicians didn’t (and still don’t) take them seriously because of their comedy-TV origins. To me, good music is good music no matter where it comes from. I’m just glad that many people responded positively to this post and shared their love of The Blues Brothers.

        Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        October 22, 2015

        Haha, it isn’t a generational thing. I’m usually the only person I know without a TV. I’m not sure how it happened. DVDs on the computer work for me but I do like a big screen and surround sound-sound-sound…which is where movie theaters come in.
        I agree with you that good music is good music.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I miss my surround sound system, which is currently packed up during my long-distance transition. Sometime next year I hope to have a new house with a new & improved man cave. Until then, I’m stuck with MP3s & computer speakers. I think it will be worth the sacrifice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        October 22, 2015

        Moving, packing, storing…*sigh*. I hope the transition has been as smooth as possible so far and that you’re settling in comfortably. Although MP3s and computer speakers must sound like the Stone Age by comparison.
        A new and improved man cave! That’s my goal too. Danica-cave, that is. 🙂

        Like

      • Haha, I love the sound of Danica-cave. I wouldn’t miss a man-cave if I never had it, but I had a nice one for the past 9+ years so it’s been an adjustment. Add in an ongoing long-distance family crisis (which included a life-threatening emergency) and you’ll get the idea that life has been upside-down for a while.

        Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        October 22, 2015

        I’m sorry for your family crisis, Rich. I hope that things will settle down for you.
        Enjoying a nice man-cave then having it taken away would be very difficult. Can you improvise with a closet for the shorter term? 🙂
        I love the sound of Danica-cave too!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m hoping things will be somewhat normal by Thanksgiving. Every day I get closer to that goal. Thanks for the kind words.

        Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        October 22, 2015

        I shall send good thoughts and musical wishes. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • As always, much appreciated. Hope all is well in your world.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Bill Stroup
    July 22, 2016

    I just stumbled across this post and wanted to tell you how much I liked it. My brother (born in 65) had a very similar experience, and now lots of records on Chess and Stax entered our late-70s record collection and completely changed our tastes. I love so much more Memphis and Chicago music that I otherwise might not have known about. Thanks!

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by, Bill. I’m pleased to hear that The Blues Brothers had a similar impact on you & your brother. They may have been a novelty act for a lot of people but they also exposed many of us to some classics and expanded our music universes. For that I’ll be forever grateful to Belushi, Aykroyd and all those killer musicians.

      Cheers…
      Rich

      Like

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