While not nearly as “historic” (for me) as last week’s video, here’s another hidden gem from years back. Believe me, I’m sure many of you are probably thinking Blues Brothers? It was a good movie, but really?! Yes, indeed! Not only was Blues Brothers a comedy classic, but it’s a popular pick among musicians (especially of the jazz, blues, and rock ilk). However, moving beyond the movie and SNL skits, the Blues Brothers Band was (and in some capacity continues to be) a killer rhythm and blues band. (Yes, the real R&B…) A great mix of a Memphis rhythm section and New York horns.
Luckily for Belushi and Aykroyd, they had the Saturday Night Live Band at their disposal when originally wanting to do their blues bees skits. Deciding to transform their skit into an actual band, they recruited a dream-team of studio and touring musicians, including (most of the names should be familiar):
Steve “The Colonel” Cropper – Guitar
Donald “Duck” Dunn – Bass
Steve “Getdwa” Jordan – Drums
Tom “Bones” Malone – Trombone & Saxophones
“Blue” Lou Marini – Saxophones
Matt “Guitar” Murphy – Guitar
Alan “Mr. Fabulous” Rubin – Trumpet
Tom “Triple Scale” Scott – Saxophones
Paul “The Shiv” Shaffer – Keyboards
Anyone familiar with the backing musicians of popular music from the 1960s to present should see MANY familiar names. Cropper and Dunn were part of the house band for Stax Records (!!!), Marini has been with James Taylor for decades, Scott did some work with Joni Mitchell (he’s all over her historic Court and Spark), Steve Jordan is a top studio and touring drummer (recently collaborating with John Mayer), you see Malone every night with Letterman, and Paul Shaffer has played everywhere with everyone. Behind Jake and Elwood on the stage and in the recording booth is a Who’s Who of American popular music.
Aside from the movie soundtracks, there aren’t many recordings of the Blues Brothers Band. I picked up The Definitive Collection in probably 1997 and still listen to it quite a bit. (It’s great for late night driving.) Sure, John and Dan aren’t the world’s greatest singers, but the band more than makes up for it. The below video is of one of my favorite songs of theirs (a performance of which is included on The Definitive Collection). Assuming the poster included the correct date, this performance comes from New Year’s Eve 1978, meaning this gig was an opening set for the Grateful Dead at Winterland. “(I’ve Got Everything I Need) Almost” was originally written and performed by Canada’s Downchild Blues Band.