The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack Recording

Music review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack Recording Music Poster Image
Cult classic romp boasts great tracks by music legends.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

This music is more about fun than messages. Still, there are uplifting moments, from James Brown returning to his gospel roots with a rockin' choir in "The Old Landmark" to Aretha Franklin's take-no-prisoners delivery of "Think":  "People walkin' around every day / Playin' games and takin' scores / Tryin' to make other people lose their minds / Well be careful you don't lose yours ...
You need me and I need you / Without each other, ain't nothin' neither can do."

Positive Role Models & Representations

In real life, John Belushi famously died too young from his druggie ways. In the movie, the Brothers are golden-hearted scoundrels who engage in all manner of mayhem to do a good deed (save the Catholic orphanage they grew up in). This imparts a certain quality of cheerful outlaw fun to the music, but aside from the hoochie lifestyle of "Minnie the Moocher" and the inmates' party in "Jailhouse Rock," both played for laughs, there's not much bad behavior to worry about -- and the latter is more a celebration of music's ability to bring people together than a feast of criminality.


"So glad we made it" in "Gimme Some Lovin'" may have a sexual connotation -- or maybe not. The comical Minnie the Moocher ("a lowdown hoochie-coocher") hangs out with dubious guys and dreams of being kept in style by rich men.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher," Minnie "messed around with a bloke named Smokey / She loved him, though he was coke-y."

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.

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Kid, 10 years old July 13, 2017

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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