It's a little bit dated, but I saw the film Cadillac Records during the weekend. It's a biopic that deals with Chess records, a Chicago-based label that established what is now considered as Chicago blues. Colossal artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley built their careers in the studios of Chess. It's a pity that such a great subject was not developed in a satisfactory way. As Lois Wilson writes in Mojo (issue 190, Sep. 09) "this Chess-inspired romp takes too many liberties with the truth". One could argue that such "liberties" could be justified in a film loosely based in real-life events, where the real names are not used; the film Dreamgirls is I guess a good example. Here is the whole review:
"JUST OVER half way through Cadillac Records, a very-worse-for-wear Etta James played by Beyonce Knowles, kisses her label boss, Chess records co-founder Leonard Chess, played by Adrien Brody. It's implied that they are about to embark on an affair, the action taking place some time in the '60s.
After he saw the film Leonard's son, Marshall Chess — who was consultant on this Darnell Martin-written and directed film based on the Chess label story — rang up Etta James (the real one). "Did you really have an affair with my father?" he asked her, hoping that Leonard hadn't copped off with his leading lady. Of course not, was Etta's reply and therein lies the main problem with Cadillac Records. Not content to just tell the story of the label founded in 1947 by Polish emigre brothers Leonard and Phil Chess (the latter is airbrushed out, presumably to keep the plot simpler), it feels a need to tell great big lies. Like the one wherein blues harpist Little Walter (Columbus Short) shoots a man who is using his name. Perhaps Martin got him muddled up with Sonny Boy Williamson, another important Chess recording artist, who doesn't appear in the film, didn't kill anyone, but did steal his name from a different bluesman called Sonny Boy Williamson after he was murdered. Another player missing from the tale astonishingly is Bo Diddley, who signed to the label in 1955 and whose guitar playing caused a musical revolution. Even those with just a fleeting interest in Chess would recognise how integral Bo is to the label's evolution. And, of course, Leonard Chess didn't really discover Etta James: that was Johnny Otis, who conceived and recorded Etta's 1955 debut The Wallflower, a Number 1 US R&B hit five years before she joined Chess.
So either Martin didn't do, or has ignored, her research to come up with a script so inaccurate
that there's little point running the tag, "based on a true story". Sadly, her bending of the truth hasn't made the screenplay any more enticing.
And yet, when Cadillac Records sticks to the making of the music it delivers some great moments: Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf turns in a mighty fine rendition of Smokestack Lightnin', Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, a convincing I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man, and Mos Def as the wild child Chuck Berry is compelling throughout.
The same can't be said for Adrien Brody, who is expressionless as the elder Chess brother, or Beyonce, who remakes every Etta James song into a hysterical modern R&B number. As such, there's very little to celebrate here. But should you want more, also included is a documentary on the making of the film, another one on the design and a director's commentary."
In any case, the film was a great opportunity to upload this Chess release, which is one of the greatest live recordings ever. And in order to cover the unreasonable absence of Bo Diddley from the film, I urge to discover another Chess release, uploaded earlier in this blog.
review link: here
download link: here
Monday Mystery Song - Okay, if you get this one, you're good. From 1966, please enjoy the quite remarkable "You Used to Ride So High" by *Abilene Motorcycle*. This is an unre...
5 hours ago