Monday, December 8, 2008

"Cadillac" CD: Nothing Beats The Original

Cadillac Records Soundtrack
Beyonce Knowles, Jeffrey Wright,
Mos Def, Little Walter, and other
Various Artists
Columbia Records
Four Scoops of Bosco

Best of Chess: Original Versions
of Songs In Cadillac Records
Etta James, Muddy Waters,
Chuck Berry and other Various Artists
Chess Records

Five Scoops of Bosco

By Allen Bacon, Editor, The Daily Bosco

Memphis had Stax Records...Detroit had Motown, but when it came to music with sheer raw energy, grit, sexuality, and ahead of the curve for it's day...none was better than the legendary Chess Records from Chicago. From the 1940's until the late 1960's no sweeter sounds were captured on vinyl than the music that came from the studios of the Chess Brothers.

Fortunately, thanks to Executive Producer Beyonce Knowles and her Biopic "Cadillac Records" we get to stroll down memory lane and a whole new generation will be introduced to this wonderful music.

While the movie takes some creative liberties and plays with the truth...even leaving out one of the Chess Brothers...the music lives on with two wonderful Cd's and there can be no fudging of the truth here. The first is mainly covers of the original music that is used in the movie.

Beyonce Knowles does her best to emulate Etta James on such tunes as "At Last" and "I'd Rather Go Blind" but there is only one Etta James and as talented as Beyonce is (and she really does does a formable job here) she does not breathe the same rarefied air as James.

The real surprise here is how well actor Jeffrey Wright does Muddy Waters. Listen to tunes like Blues Standards "I'm A Man" and "I'm Your Hootchie Cootchie Man" and see if you don't agree. Think of Jamie Fox in "Ray" or Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon in "Walk The Line". Jeffrey Wright is right there as an actor that also sings his role.

But the most fun is listening to Mos Def interpreting Chuck Berry. I found myself listening again and again to rock and roll classics "No Particular Place To Go", "Nadine", and "Maybelline".

There are some original songs on this album. But they really do not stand up to the classic music covers and should not be on this two album set. The exception may be "Let's Take A Walk" by Raphael Saadiq which best captures the sound of the Chess sound and attitude.

Of course, I found myself gravitating more toward the companion album put out simultaneously by Chess Records which has all the original versions of the songs by Etta James, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and more.

Nothing Beats the real article.

The Bosco rating system is based on a value of 1 to 5...5 being best.

No comments: