Search - Lightning In a Bottle: A One Night History of the Blues on DVD

Lightning In a Bottle: A One Night History of the Blues
Lightning In a Bottle A One Night History of the Blues
Actors: Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown, Buddy Guy, Solomon Burke, Mavis Staples, James Blood Ulmer
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
PG-13     2005     1hr 43min

A celebration of the blues performed by various artists. Genre: Documentary Rating: NR Release Date: 5-DEC-2006 Media Type: DVD


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Movie Details

Actors: Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown, Buddy Guy, Solomon Burke, Mavis Staples, James Blood Ulmer
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Creators: Alex Gibney, Jack Gulick, Jody Allen, Margaret Bodde, Martin Scorsese, Paul G. Allen, Richard Hutton
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Aerosmith, Documentary
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/08/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 43min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: French

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Movie Reviews

A Great Start To The Year Of The Blues
Perry Celestino | Tahmoor, NSW Australia | 04/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This memorable concert was filmed at New York's Radio City Music Hall in February 2003. It was the start of the "Year Of the Blues". Martin Scorsese, who gave us the wonderful (but a bit controversial content-wise) series of Blues Films (which took over a year to be screened and available here in Australia) opens the show, after the Blues Year he was also a voice in "Shark's tale"!

There is no denying that this is a memorable and well presented concert. Many of the greatest living Blues players are here as well as those we might refer to as marginal-transitional people with Blues interests. Some we don't get to hear, Robert Jr Lockwood and Jimmie Vaughan are seen, but not heard. the concert itself represents a musical journey through various Blues styles from African songs, to WC Handy, to music hall styles, women singers, the lone Juke Player right up through B.B. King and Hendrix and, yes, Chuck D trying to stop the Iraq Invasion with "Boom Boom" Rap!

This DVD is most enjoyable and a great and reasonably priced addition to one's music library. Highlights for me include B.B. King's story about "Sweet Sixteen" and his performance. Robert Cray's input, as usual is outstanding with his clean understated guitar work. David "Honeyboy" Edwards, who knew Robert Johnson, provides a rare self-penned tune (he mostly did covers during his career), Hubert Sumlin (who has just lost a lung!!; and was smoking in the interview!!!!; and who I got to meet in 1991) plays a great rendition of "Killing Floor" with the riff he made famous for Howlin' Wolf. Natalie Cole (a comeback?) does a great update of Bessie Smith's "Saint Louis Blues"-reminds me a bit of Janis Joplin-remember she started out sounding like Aretha on "This Will Be". The tune with Natalie, the great Mavis Staples (who does a great version of Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Make Sure My Grave's Kept Clean") Ruth Brown and Bill Cosby "Men Are Like Street Cars" is a great humourous blues. It was horrible to hear the Ruth had suffered a stroke prior to this concert and was still superb (see more of this delightful lady in the "Blues Story" DVD).

Solomon Burke, who I just saw in Australia, was fabluous as usual. His singing is great and he sure knows how to work the crowd (like all great church inspired soul singers). Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown was an awesome talent. This was probably his last recorded performance. His no pick guitar style was unique and classic. His playing is a highlight of the entire DVD!

Macy Gray does a great version of "Hound Dog" in the style of Big Mamma Thronton. It's interesting to see her at the rehearsal a bit perplexed about the whole thing and then transform on stage. Buddy Guy is Buddy Guy, he's great, out front, out of tune, and, to me, stands for what the Blues is all about. He does a rare acoustic version of "I Can't Be Satisfied" in dedication to his mentor Muddy Waters. He also does a bit of Jimi Hendrix's "Red House"-this was great because if purists ran the show this would not have been done. I agree with the previous reviewers the rap, Aerosmith, John Fogarty and rock in general are farther from the blues than Jimi Hendrix, but in a show like this I can stomach anything, for one thing the band is so great.

Another highlight of this show is Odetta, the hippy Black folk singer from the 1960s. She does a great version of Leadbelly's "Jim Crow Blues" and even phrases like Leadbelly! A wonderful effort. The documentary footage between songs, the lighting and effects and the interviews are great. The bonus tracks are superb as well. Get this if you are a Blues lover!

An historic celebration of the blues
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 06/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Billed as "a one night history of the blues," Lightning in a Bottle (with Martin Scorsese serving as executive producer) assembles a ton of great performers to retrace the steps of the blues from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago to the rest of the country. The concert took place in Radio City Music Hall in February 2003, and it packs a lot of music and history into a little less than two hours. Old clips, interviews, and snippets of rehearsal accompany the performances themselves, offering a blues history lesson of sorts. I won't pretend to be an expert on the blues; Muddy Waters is about the only blues singer I've ever spent time seriously listening to. That will probably change, now that I know a little more about the incredible music I've been missing out on all these years.

It would be impossible to talk about every performance crammed into this concert - blues songs tend to be pretty short (especially when you don't include any jam session stuff), so an incredible number of songs were performed on this historic night. Go check out the soundtrack to see who performed what. All of the living legends were fantastic, and their vintage blues is still the best blues on earth. Mavis Staple really gets the ball rolling with her spiritual performance of Blind Lemon Jefferson's See That My Grave is Kept Clean. David "Honeyboy" Edwards (at 88) still shows the world what acoustic Delta blues was all about with his performance of Gamblin' Man. The incomparable Clarence "Gateway" Brown plays Okie Dokie Swamp like only he can. Hubert Sumlin, despite having recently lost a lung, pours great energy into Killing Floor (although I thought singer David Johansen came off as hopelessly contrived). Ruth Brown, Mavis Staple, and Natalie Cole (with a little help from Bill Cosby) make Men Are Just Like Streetcars one of the most entertaining songs of the night. Natalie Cole, I have to say, can sure 'nough sing the blues, as she proves with her version of W.C. Handy's classic St. Louis Blues.

Robert Johnson is represented by Keb' Mo' performing Love in Vain, while Odetta wows the crowd with Lead Belly's Jim Crow Blues. James "Blood" Ulmer (with Allison Kraus) takes us all the way back to 1930 with The Mississippi Sheiks' Sitting on Top of the World. The incomparable Muddy Waters was well represented by Buddy Guy on I Can't Be Satisfied. Buddy Guy, as far as I'm concerned, stole the whole show. How important is this man to the blues and music in general? He's the very nexus between Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix. Later in the show, Guy returned to perform his own First Time I Met the Blues. Then, after giving us some riffs of Hendrix's Red House, he is compelled to come back out to perform Hendrix's Voodoo Child with Angelique Kidjo. Solomon Burke gets the crowd jumping with Turn on Your Love Light and Down in the Valley. Last but not least, B.B. King puts the final exclamation point on this historic night, making Lucille wail on his classic Sweet Sixteen.

The younger performers feature some hits and misses. Shemekia Copeland, who performs I Pity the Fool with Robert Cray, is incredible. The Neville Brothers shine on Big Chief, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry bring their own style to I'm a King Bee, and Bonnie Raitt shows she belongs onstage with Coming Home. I didn't particularly care for John Fogerty's rocked-up performance of Midnight Special, though, and Macy Gray (after appearing quite clueless at rehearsal) had a little too much fun with Big Mamma Thornton's Hound Dog. I have nothing but disdain for Chuck D, I have to say; turning John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom into rap is bad enough, but this guy momentarily spoiled the whole evening by using the song to make a political statement.

Don't think of this concert as the blues' funeral. Lightning in a Bottle is a celebration of all the greats who defined this uniquely American style of music. The blues will almost surely never return to the heights of the old Delta and Chicago eras, but the classics will always be a part of us, and there is at least some hope (Shemekia Copeland, for sure) on the horizon for its future. One of the problems with the blues is the fact that so many people still haven't experienced it for themselves. This DVD goes a long way toward solving that problem, and with any luck, it will inspire one or more young performers to follow in the giant footsteps of those celebrated here."
Thank God they put rap on here
Jack Simmons | LA | 06/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a time capsule of blues music. It will be looked at for ages, and like the blues, will not fade like the fashion of the day. This is such an enjoyable concert film, that paces itself wonderfully. The rap and the only political statement utterd by chuck d serves a wonderful purpose. It shows that musically rap has no place, is woefully inferior, and can't exist outside of itself.Chuck D and his performance is embarassing, and anyone who views this dvd years from now will see how our culture momentarily slipped and lost it's way. It will be a mystery how such a great evening of music of was tainted with such a one dimensional,tired, and talentless hype they call "rap" It is so completely out of place, historically, and without question musically. The rest of the dvd is a labor of love, and recorded like your favorite cd. A MUST OWN."
Lightning in a Bottle
John Farr | 07/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Attention, rhythm and blues fans- this is your movie! Exhilarating, toe-tapping performance film gives you a front-row seat for this milestone event, with peerless musicians young and old honoring the birth of the blues. Macy Gray and Steven Tyler, Natalie Cole and Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt and Keb Mo, and John Fogerty and B.B King appear to pay tribute and light up the auditorium with their joy and talent. What a ride!"