Detroit, Michigan, 1959. Berry Gordy gathers the best musicians from the city’s thriving jazz and blues scene for his new record company: Motown. For the next 14 years these players are the heartbeat on “My Girl,” “Baby Love,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “Bernadette,” “I Was Made To Love Her,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “Dancing In The Street,” and every other hit from Motown’s Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, the unheralded group of musicians plays on more Number One hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles combined, making them the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music. They call themselves the Funk Brothers. But no one knows their names…this is their story.
Standing in the Shadows of Motown is a must-see film for any fan of the Supremes, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, or any other classic Motown stars. This swinging documentary celebrates the Funk Brothers – the team of studio musicians who powered dozens and dozens of hit Motown songs–by combining reminiscences, reenactments, and clips from a recent concert put on by the Funk Brothers, featuring singers like Chaka Khan, Ben Harper, and Joan Osborne on classic tunes like “What’s Going On,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” and “Heatwave.” This crafty gang of elderly musicians will charm your pants off with a slew of entertaining anecdotes. Though it seems that there’s a lot of dirt they’re declining to dish, the movie deftly outlines the history of Motown, surely the most significant music label in American history–the label that turned segregated “race music” into chart-topping success. A soulful delight.