Saturday, November 30, 2013

briefcase full of blues

The Blues Brothers started a blues revival when they opened up their 'Briefcase Full of Blues'.  John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd developed their characters "Joliet" Jake and Elwood Blues as part of the sketch comedy variety show 'Saturday Night Live'.  Aykroyd says the idea began early on in his relationship with Belushi when he brought him to a small blues club he ran in Toronto:    "So we're sitting there…the windows all fogged up, and John listens and says, 'Hey, what's that music?  Well, I say, 'John, that's a local blues band,' and he said, 'Wow, that's great.' 'Well, it's just local…you come from Chicago, which is the home of the blues.' But John said he was into heavy metal, and I said, 'Well, you can teach me 'bout that, and I'll teach you about the blues.'  So we started listening to this record, and Howard Shore says, 'Yeah, you guys should start a group. You could call yourselves the Blues Brothers.' So that early, even back then, before we went to 'Saturday Night Live' and were hired there, we were thinking about doing a band together."  A year later, when they were reunited in New York, John told Dan:  "'Hey, remember when we were in Toronto and we were talking about doing some music? Well, I got these blues albums...Oh, yeah....He said we should pick a couple of songs…. 'You could play harp, I could sing.'  I said, 'Who's going to back us up?' and he said, 'Ah, we'll figure that out.'…So we began together to figure out songs we could do effectively that wouldn't sound too bad...So we got the suits from Lenny Bruce, ("just to fool the straights") the shades and hat came from a record that John Lee Hooker had called House of the Blues.  All of a sudden, we had material that we could do. We had a look. So how and where were we going to play?"      Willie Nelson and his band were playing at New York's Lone Star Café and invited the Blues Brothers down and they would back them up:  "We did five songs the first night, and it was a big hit; and the next night it was a bigger hit and the next night it was an even bigger hit. We did three nights, with the briefcase on the arm, and John would unlock it and out would come the harmonica…we thought to ourselves, We really have something here."

Belushi revealed:    "It's really strange.  I used to play drums in bands in Wheaton. Stones-Beatles stuff. It was the most fun I've ever had, playing parties and garages. Then this concert happens and it's like living out your fantasy. I never even listened to the blues. Shit, I listened to more Sabbath and Led Zeppelin in one week...Even though I grew up in Chicago and I guess it was all around me, I didn't really hear it. Not until I was in Eugene [Oregon] last year shooting 'Animal House'...There were a lot of rainy nights with nothing to do and this guy I met there, Curtis Salgado, began playing me all this music. It was fucking unbelievable. I was starving for it and Curtis kept asking me if I was really interested. Interested. I couldn't stop playing the stuff! Magic Sam, Lightnin' Hopkins, Junior Wells--I walked around playing that shit all the time. I bought hundreds of records and singles. And then I knew Danny had played the harp in Canada, and I always could sing, so we created the Blues Brothers...The music we play--Stax, and Chicago blues--all of it is music we like to listen to. I just can't handle all the pre-programmed, processed fuckin' disco. There's no feeling in that shit. Our music isn't perfect but it's emotional...We have to play this or we can't hear it.! And it really should be heard. There just aren't that many places you can go and see the blues any more."

'Briefcase Full of Blues' was recorded live at the Universal Amphitheater, L.A. when the group opened for Steve Martin.  The album was produced by Bob Tischler with Paul Shaffer as musical director and features John Belushi as Joliet Jake Blues on lead vocals and Dan Aykroyd as Elwood Blues on harmonica and lead vocals on "Rubber Biscuit";   with Paul "The Shiv" Shaffer on hammond organ, wurlitzer electric piano and acoustic piano; Steve "The Colonel" Cropper and Matt ""Guitar" Murphy on guitar; Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass guitar; Steve "Getdwa" Jordan on drums; Lou "Big Lou" Marini and Tom "Triple Scale" Scott on tenor sax; Alan "Mr. Fabulous" Rubin on trumpet; and Tom "Bones" Malone on tenor sax, baritone sax, trombone, and trumpet.  Horns were arranged by Tom Malone and background vocals by Elwood Blues, Steve Jordan, Lou Marini, Tom Malone, Al Rubin, Tom Scott and Paul Shaffer. 

'Briefcase Full of Blues'  reached number one on the Billboard 200 and went double platinum, spawning two top forty hits and eventually inspiring a motion picture.  The album was dedicated to Curtis Salgado. 

King Bee on SNL on January 17, 1976

The Blues Brothers - King Bee by OReily0201

Hey Bartender

'B' Movie Boxcar Blues

Soul Man

Blues Brothers- Soul Man (SNL) from Cole Williams on Vimeo.

'The Blues Brothers' motion picture features musical performances from James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker.   .  The album was dedicated to Curtis Salgado.

'Briefcase Full of Blues'

full album:

1. Opening: I Can't Turn You Loose (Otis Redding) (0:00) 

2. Hey Bartender (Floyd Dixon) (1:49)
3. Messin' With The Kid (Mel London) (4:50)
4. (I Got Everything I Need) Almost (Donnie Walsh) (8:26)
5. Rubber Biscuit (Charles Johnson and Adam R. Levy) (11:16)
6. Shot Guns Blues (Donnie Walsh) (14:14)
7. Groove Me (King Floyd) (19:38)
8. I Don't Know (Willie Mabon) (23:24)
9. Soul Man (Isaac Hayes and David Porter) (27:40)
10. "'B' Movie Box Car Blues" (Delbert McClinton) (31:08)
11. Flip, Flop, And Fly (Charles E. Calhoun and Lou Willie Turner) (35:16)
12. Closing: I Can't Turn You Loose (Otis Redding) (38:55)

'Briefcase Full of Blues' 
liner notes by Miami Mitch Glazer:   
"Jake had a vision. It was his, the only real one he'd ever had, and he clung to it. There had been too many messy gas station holdups with only some green stamps and a case of Valvoline to show for the risk. Joliet Jake had always been full of schemes. But this was different; it played across his tiled cell wall 24 hours a day. And the ending was always the same – Jake and his younger brother Elwood cruising out of Calumet City, Ill., with the sun in their shades and a full tank of gas. He absentmindedly rubbed his Buddha belly; even on a diet of jail food and Chesterfields, Jake had gained weight. Someday they’d have a penthouse on Lake Shore Drive … float around with bourbons and blonds. It was out there for the taking and Jake could smell it like ozone in damp air.
It had always been the blues. Even back in the Rock Island City orphanage (that sweaty kid factory with the black windows) Jake and Elwood were saved by the music. actually, saved by a gray-haired janitor everybody called Curtis. He wore these sinister midnight shades, a narrow black tie and a porkpie hat that he kept pushed back on his head. Curtis wrapped his waxy brown hands around his guitar neck and played the most dangerous blues this side of Robert Johnson. The nuns scorched their days with holy threats and Curtis rescued them by night. Down in the coolness of his basement he taught the brothers the blues.
Silent Elwood never did put more than two sentences together, but all those lost words burned from his Special 20 blues harp. And Joliet tore that voice from some hidden darkness, twisting his chubby body, snarling at the heavens, a born sinner. They used the basement because it was secret and because the echo gave them a nice dirty sound: Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walker, slapping like a bad dream around the chilly room. and then one night, Jake brought in a gleaming E string he said came from Elmore James’ guitar. He held it tight and as it glowed in the bulb light, Jake sliced Elwood’s middle finger and then his own. Now the solo boys with soul in their blood were brothers. Jake and Elwood Blues … the Blues Brothers.
When Jake could keep himself out of jail, Elwood took off from the Taser factory and the brothers rode the state bare. They played everywhere: after-hours clubs, black-light bars. Word spread quietly across the steel belt about the two men in the porkpie hats who still played the blues. And soon other musicians crawled out of the night. The Colonel showed up in Decatur with his Telecaster and Duck. The Shiv, Mr. Fabulous, Blue Lou, Bones, Triple Scale, and crazy Getdwa strutted in one Saturday night. Finally, Guitar Murphy, bigger than life, joined up and they were set. One scary soul band as mean and righteous as a fist."

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