A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the soundtrack to The Blues Brothers is big fun and bypasses the movie's problematical themes of comically criminal behavior. It offers a great sampling of 20th century pop culture with iconic tracks from TV themes to chart hits, including "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "Jailhouse Rock." Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi front a hot band of the day's top studio musicians, and James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Cab Calloway contribute stellar cameo appearances.
What's the story?
Jake and Elwood Blues began as a Saturday Night Live comedy routine by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. By the time THE BLUES BROTHERS movie came along in 1980, they'd produced actual hit records, thanks in part to the hot band of studio musicians the two comics put together. The soundtrack to their cinematic adventure finds the band romping happily through bluesy bar-band classics in between the Brothers' encounters with 20th century music icons James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin, who turn in memorable versions of their own hits.
Is it any good?
The Blues Brothers in general, and this album in particular, were never a hit with purists who preferred the original versions of the tunes they covered and deplored their frequent silliness. However, many critics and fans credit the Brothers with introducing them to the blues and being a launchpad for future explorations. And for kids, this is a fine place to start. There's plenty to explore, as the cover tunes spotlight a great collection of 20th century composers and songwriters, from Henry Mancini to Taj Mahal. Aretha Franklin and late legends James Brown, Cab Calloway, and Ray Charles make cameo appearances doing what they do best; Franklin's blazing "Think" and James Brown in preacher mode with a full gospel choir on "The Old Landmark" are showstoppers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether this music, some of which goes back generations, has the same appeal for today's kids. Or is it too old-school?
A lot of the songs on this album have become standards -- meaning most musicians know them, play them together, and have fun with them in the process. Does it sound as if they're having fun on the album?
Do you think this band would still be happening if John Belushi had lived? How do you like Dan Aykroyd's work since Belushi's death?
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