Finally out of the Shadows

Nov. 22, 2002, midnight | By Laura Blythe-Goodman | 18 years, 2 months ago

"Standing in the Shadows of Motown" is the story of the Funk Brothers, the band that was the unknown sound and soul of Motown music. This documentary is a beautiful collage of videos, pictures, and narratives. Wonderfully cohesive and continuously interesting, this movie tells the story of Motown and the group who was the very foundation of Motown.

The movie starts with scenes from one of the band member's early childhood, but quickly jumps to the present. The Funk Brother's pianist, Joe Hunter, is playing the piano and giving the audience a general overview of their career. Basically, while they created so many of the hits of the time, they got no recognition for their work. "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" starts with an interview of a surviving member of the band become a narrative voice over some pictures and video clips of the history of the Funk Brothers.

The interviews are usually one or a few of the members in a club or the infamous Studio A talking about some memory they have from their time as the Funk Brothers. These stories of the previously untold story of the band behind the Motown legends make the movie. Each of these talented musicians also proves themselves to be entertaining and funny.

However, the most enthralling part of this movie had to be the scenes from the Funk Brothers' reunion concert. This concert footage is worth going to see for the musical talent alone. These scenes are more than just excellent musicians performing their best songs, but this aspect of the performances should not be overlooked. Drum riffs and bass lines that the audience instantly recognizes hold their own against inventive and equally talented saxophone solos. However, the segments now take on a new meaning as interviews and narratives tell the stories behind the songs.

Following true to the movie's mission to give recognition to the unsung stars of Motown, the concert segments are masterfully shot, starting with close ups of individuals playing the instruments, then getting sweeping shots of every member of the band. Concert scene shots are lively and colorful, especially when the guest lead vocalist is Bootsy Collins. Other vocalists lend their talents to this show, but the main attraction remains the band.

Although the premise of "Standing" is the story of a group of musicians who were virtually ignored by the media and population, the Funk Brothers never come across as self-pitying or arrogant. Their attitude is more that they are getting their long overdue recognition for their abilities and efforts. The Funk Brothers always talk about the music they created with pride, but there is a sad note to the film as they remember their fellow musicians who passed away before they could receive any recognition for the contributions they had made to Motown.

The movie ends on a happier note, however, as the last concert segment finishes with all the Funk Brothers being introduced as they enter the stage and pictures set up for those who were not alive to be there. The last scene from this concert segment shows the audience wildly applauding for the previously unrecognized talents. The musicians who made Motown were finally able to step out of the shadows.

Tags: print

Laura Blythe-Goodman. Laura is a senior this year. In her spare time, she learns how to play the guitar and talks to Emma. More »

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