June 12, 2013

Twenty Feet From Stardom: A Review - Updated: Wins A Grammy



Ever wonder who that voice on "Gimme Shelter" was?

Featuring Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Tata Vega; Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Bette Midler, Mick Jagger, Chris Botti.

Fans of the knockout lineup above can't help but relive their slacker youths, those early doobies, the wasted years lying around on someone's scruffy flokati in a haze of equally adrift bro's and such, as one worked out patterns on the pressed metal ceiling above one's half-lidded eyeballs.

Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names. In his cardiac-tissue new doc, Twenty Feet from Stardom, director Morgan Neville has an easy and enviable task: Run around the studios down south and music venues up north, then spotlight the untold true stories of the doo-wop and forward backup singers behind some of the greatest musical colossi of the 21st century. 

Exuberant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices and talent that brought texture, rhythm and color to our popular music, and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices, and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others entailed. 

Always on call, but out of the hot and monied limelight. No one gave them velvet rope exceptions in the starlight room, or privileged access to the toney corridors of fame. One famous fogey once opined that he hated his fame, once his face became known. But these stars never got the chance to decry the burdens of going to a 5-star restaurant and being hounded by autograph seekers and celebrity bounty hunters.

These gifted artists span a range of styles, genres and eras of pop music, but each has her (mostly hers in this capture of the great unknowns who made the known greats) uniquely fascinating and personal story to share of life spent in the superstar penumbra. 

Along with rare archival footage and a peerless soundtrack, Twenty Feet boasts candid, intimate interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger, and Sting among many.

 Here, these world-famous figures take a back seat to the flamboyant array of backup singers whose lives and stories take flight after lives spent in well-regarded, infra dig, but unrecognized shadows. 

A movie easy to like on its own merits, terrific listening, heart-filling glimpses into the idolized, but indispensable if you want the larger canvas of those behind-the-scenes goings-on that colored so many growing-up years, before you planted your flag in responsible pretend working-stiff adulthood.

No big messages. Hardly a political potboiler. But this kind of bonbon can unite the tops and bottoms, the reds and blues, the whizziwits and whazziwats.

Go alone. Go together. Either way, you'll be just a couple of theatre rows from your personal, hummable bygones. Rather, <sigh>gones.

Directed by Morgan Neville 

By Marion DS Dreyfus

With many thanks to American Thinker

The glorious music doco 20 Feet From Stardom has just scored another win, taking out the Grammy for Best Music Film.

For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a humble work about some of the greatest singers who never were; the backup singers who have provided the musical backbone to some of the biggest songs of all time, and who get very little recognition. It was one of my Doco Club highlights of last year.

Twenty Feet From Stardom was pitted against documentaries on Jay Z and Beyoncé, Pink, Coldplay and Metallica. This win is yet another formal nod (the film won an Oscar as well) to the folk with all the talent, but who don’t normally get the accolades – singers like Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer and Judith Hill.

If anything, this Grammy win is an excuse for me to share with you one of the most phenomenal moments in music history that gets explored in the documentary – the recording of the vocals of The Rolling Stones' song 'Gimme Shelter'. It all happened late one night, some time in 1969, when a heavily pregnant Merry Clayton got the call to sing on a track with a bunch of lads called The Rolling Stones. She rolled up to the studio in her PJs and a mink coat and then went on to sing one of the greatest vocals in rock'n'roll history. It is absolutely, mindblowingly incredible.

Seeing Mick Jagger almost concede that he’s been vocally blown out of the water is something to behold as well.(thanks to link above).



Summary of posts on the Rolling Stones in no particular order:


Ronnie Wood: His Art and The Rolling Stones
And Australian Tour Cancelled and now rescheduled. 

Judith Hill: The Best Singer You’ve Never Heard Of

Lyric Of The Week: Gram Parsons, “$1,000 Wedding”

Rolling Stones Book To Cost $5,000 (or $10,000)

Behind The Song: The Rolling Stones, “Wild Horses”

Jagger Gives Charlie Watts A Special Gift!

Glyn Johns: Defining That Classic-Rock Sound

The Rolling Stones - A New Book

Altamont at 45: The Most Dangerous Rock Concert Ever?

Are These The Best Double Albums Ever?

The Rolling Stones: New Tour Announced - Zip Code Updated: Releases from The Vault And A New Album for Keith Richards

'American Pie' Lyrics Sell For $1.2 million In New York

 The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers: Super Deluxe Edition

Bill Wyman: The Rolling Stones Never Forgave Me For Leaving 

Darlene Love to Release a New Album

The Rolling Stones To Create Their Own Museum

Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood’s - "How Can It Be? A Rock & Roll Diary"

The Who Release First Song In 8 Years: Be Lucky 

Bob Dylan Named Greatest Songwriter Ahead Of Lennon and McCartney According To Rolling Stone  

Keith Richards ‘Under The Influence’

Keith Richards Says Jagger’s Ego Sent Him Solo

 The Rolling Stones’ 'Satisfaction' Was The Result Of A Faulty Amp

Rolling Stones Rehearse Rare Songs For Their South American Tour