BLUES MASTERS – The Essential History of The Blues I & II (AVI) 2002

BLUES MASTERS – The Essential History of The Blues I & II (AVI) 2002
(DVD Ripp)

Blues

Another DVD of blues music gets released and most people will likely roll their eyes and sigh – well don’t! This time we are presented with a blues music disc that is so much more that everyone will find something in it to like. The disc’s title Blues Masters – The Essential History of the Blues Volume 1&2 could not be more accurate, and the history lesson that accompanies the musical selections is both moving and thought provoking.

This is a collection of fine performances linked by an in-depth, informative look at the history of black America since the introduction of slavery through to World War II, where presumably Blues Masters – The Essential History of the Blues Volume II begins. The images that accompany the narration are often explicit, dark, depressing and frank. The well structured combination of stills and moving footage highlight superbly what the narrator is saying.

This history of the blues covers such dark subjects as poverty, the KKK, the Great Depression, Chicago mobsters and war. At each, the narrator draws the link between that period of history and the importance of blues music. The disc features performances by Leadbelly, Bessie Smith, Son House and the wonderful Big Bill Broonzy. The bonus is the extremely rare performance of Leadbelly, the only known footage of the great man in action.

For those who find the blues a tad boring, or are wondering what all the fuss is about, then do yourself a big favour and give this disc a look. The history lesson alone is worth it, and the blues music that accompanies it is a wonderful bonus, making so much more sense when placed in context. The blues is some of the rawest and most emotional music the world has known, and this disc begins to make the parallels more obvious.
**
This documentary does what so many others on Black Music failed to do, it discusses the music in the context of black struggle in America. The reason this DVD was such a breath of fresh air to me is because I purchased it after returning a documentary (American Roots Music) that did the exact opposite. Where American Roots Music teases the viewer with one or two seconds of it’s “rare footage”, Blues Masters shows rare sessions with Son House, Leadbelly, Bessie Smith and many more virtually uncut. Where American Roots Music attempts to handle the music as if it exists in a vacuum; Blues Masters doesn’t separate the music from the people who created it. The latter even makes mention and shows footage of self-determined Black leaders such as Marcus Garvey and Father Divine, who both were very influential among common Black folks of the time. It discusses the “Racist Regime of America” and it’s deep mistreatment of Blacks and alludes to the fact that this deep seated oppression and pain had to be an element of what actually drove Black folks to create the blues in the first place. This DVD is a must have. Buy two copies, just in case one of your friends decide to borrow it and never give it back.
By Marcel Diallo.
**
Born on the plantations of the Mississippi Delta, the blues is America’s root music. Few performances of the early masters were ever captured on film, but those that were are profoundly insightful and entertaining. On this DVD, enjoy these blues masters: Son House, Leadbelly, Bessie Smith, B.B. King , Billie Holiday, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Big Joe Turner, Mamie Smith, Roy Milton with June Richmond, Jimmy Rushing with Count Basie, Ethel Waters with Count Basie, Big Bill Broonzy, Ida Cox, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Joe Williams with Jimmy Rushing. Approx 103 min.
This is an absolutely fantastic DVD of historic Blues performances. There are COMPLETE (not clips) song performances by many great Blues greats including Leadbelly, Son House, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and several others. The performance by Leadbelly is galvanizing. All of the clips are highly entertaining, many of them in unusual formats, such as the imaginative Jimmy Rushing dramatization of his song. Jazz-blues performances by performers such as Billie Holiday and Count Basie are also included. In between the performances, the narrator tells about key episodes in African-American history and the history of the Blues. Accompanying the narration are historic photos, video clips, and more music. As a college teacher, I find this an ideal video for classes on African-American culture and literature.
Unlike many documentaries, there are NO talking heads, NO pretentious “musicologists” boring us with their large vocabularies. The heart of this video is the music and the cultural background. Kudos to the producers of this excellent video. All producers of music history films should be forced to view this model music documentary.
By Q.
**
Part 1
01. Early Blues history
02. Levee Camp Blues- Son House
03. Pick a Bale O’ Cotton- Leadbelly
04. St. Louis Blues- Bessie Smith
05. Lord, Lord, Lord- Mamie Smith
06. Hey, Lawdy Mama- Roy Milton with June Richmond
07. Take Me Back, Baby- Jimmy Rushing with Count Basie
08. Harlem Blues- Mamie Smith
09. Quicksand” Ethel Waters with Count Basie
10. Guitar Shuffle- Big Bill Broonzy
11. Notes about the Dvd

Part 2
01. After the War
02. Four Day Creep- Ida Cox
03. Fine and Mellow- Billie Holiday
04. Shake, Rattle and Roll- Big Joe Turner
05. Hoochie Coochie Man- Muddy Waters
06. I Got My Eyes on You- Buddy Guy
07. Ain’t Nobody’s Business- Jimmy Witherspoon
08. ing to Chicago- Joe Williams with Jimmy Rushing
09. Darlin’ You Know I Love You- B.B. King
10. Notes about the Dvd
**
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