Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Directed By: Paul Justman

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by MCB on 12/8/2004

This is a sensational musical treat for those of us who love Motown. It features an exquisite blend of vintage performers and new talent performing the classics of the era. For Christmas 2003, I gave 12 copies to various friends and relatives – to unanimous acclaim. Also note that after watching this I bought four other CD’s from the new talent. AN ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE FOR MOTOWN FANS. Read More

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by Andy on 6/22/2006

This movie is a must-see for any musician. Largely unknown musical geniuses telling their story after decades of anonymity. It's all about the music. Read More

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Product Overview

The joyful story of the band that played on more #1 hits than elvis, the beatles and the rollings stones combined -- and nobody knew their names. They were the funk brothers and they supplied the music for virtually every classic motown hit in the 60s and 70s and this is the celebration of their music.


Studio Lions Gate
SKU 40219284
UPC 012236137801
UPC 14 00012236137801
Format DVD
Release Date 10/21/2003
Rating Rating
Music (General)
Theatrical Release
Editors Note
Note Paul Justman's inspiring documentary pays tribute to one of the most influential, yet unrecognized, collection of musicians that has ever been assembled. The Funk Brothers played the background music on the seemingly endless string of Motown classics in the 1960s and 1970s, resulting in a resume that boasts more number one hits than The Beatles, the Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley combined. Shot on location in Detroit, STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN reunites the surviving members as they reflect on the groups' storied past. Most celebrated is departed bassist James Jamerson, whose fiery presence and technical prowess was largely responsible for shaping the Funk Brothers' supremely distinct sound. In addition to interviews, as well as reenactments and archival footage, Justman gathers together the musicians for an unforgettable reunion concert. Featuring the vocal support of several contemporary artists, including Joan Osborne, Ben Harper, Chaka Kahn, Gerald Levert, and Bootsy Collins, the Funk Brothers prove that they haven't lost a beat. Based on the book by Allan "Dr. Licks" Slutsky, STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN gives overdue credit to a group of unassuming musicians who quietly created one of popular music's most enduring and spectacular musical legacies.
Rolling Stone "...This beauty of a documentary pays long-overdue tribute to the Funk Brothers....It's a glorious groove that leaves you wanting more..." 11/28/2002 p.97
Film Comment "...[A] long overdue secret history of American music....Crucial viewing for those in search of the origins of funk..." 11/01/2002 p.77
USA Today "...The film makes you feel like a winner as you bounce happily out of the theater..." 11/15/2002 p.6E
Entertainment Weekly "...STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN opens your ears in a way that few musical documentaries have attempted..." 11/22/2002 p.53
Los Angeles Times "...STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN gives the Funk Brothers their due and more, mostly through wonderfully juicy anecdotes..." 11/15/2002 p.C6
Sight and Sound "...[An] affectionate portrait..." 08/01/2003 p.58-9
Total Film "[T]he final reunion concert is a blast..." 02/01/2004 p.108
Paul Justman
Name Funk Brothers
Link Search Link
Cast & Crew
Alan Slutsky - Based On Novel By
Douglas Milsome - Cinematographer
Lon Stratton - Cinematographer
Paul Justman - Director
Anne Erikson - Editor
Richard 'Pistol' Allen - Featuring
Meshell Ndegeocello - Featuring
Montell Jordan - Featuring
Gerald Levert - Featuring
Jack Ashford - Featuring
Joan Osborne - Featuring
Ben Harper - Featuring
Benny 'Papa Zita' Benjamin - Featuring
Bootsy Collins - Featuring
Chaka Khan - Featuring
Ntozake Shange - Narrated By
Walter Dallas - Narrated By
Alan Slutsky - Original Music
Sandford Passman - Producer
Paul Justman - Producer
Alan Slutsky - Producer
Technical Info
Original Release Date 2002
Catalog ID 13780
UPC 00012236137801
Number of Discs 2
Running Time 110 minutes
Color Color
Original Language English
Available Subtitles English, Spanish
Available Audio Tracks English
Aspect Ratio
Grammy (2003) , Winner, Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
ReviewSource San Francisco Examiner
Review Chief among the highlights are concert sequences that reunite surviving members of the Funk ensemble at Detroit's Royal Oaks Music Theatre. The Funksters most assuredly still have what it takes, and they give it all they've got in performances of Motown classics with such contemporary artists as Joan Osborne (whose version of "Heat Wave" truly is scorching) and Meshell Ndegeocello. Also on hand: Bootsy Collins, Mr. Parliament-Funkadelic himself, customarily resplendent in shrieking-loud purple attire, offering sassy, high-stepping versions of "Cool Jerk" and "Do You Love Me?"
Reviewer Joe Leydon
ReviewRating 8
ReviewSource San Francisco Chronicle
Review The songs are all so familiar and the instrumental performances such a huge part of their appeal that the playing quickly moves to the foreground, which is the point anyway.But when the old guys sit around and tell their stories, Standing in the Shadows of Motown catches magic on the screen--a behind-the-curtain peek at some of the world's best-loved music, straight from the cats who made it happen.
Reviewer Joel Selvin
ReviewRating 9
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review What's interesting about these performances is that the singers make no attempt to imitate the original artists, and yet the Funks turn the songs into soundalikes anyway. Is it possible those great Motown stars were more or less created by these unsung musicians? The Funks think that is a distinct possibility. Of course, the backup singers had a lot to do with it, too, and this movie never gets around to them. They're in the shadows of the shadows.
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 8
DVD, Dolby Digital (5.1), Dolby
Product Attributes
Actor Funk Brothers
Label Artisan Entertainment
Music Format DVD
Video Format DVD
Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper It's a blast!
Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times Truly inspiring and mesmerizing.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone It's a glorious groove that leaves you wanting more. Ain't too proud to beg.

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