Red, White and Blues
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Director Mike Figgis joins musicians such as Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Tom Jones, performing and talking about the music of the early sixties British invasion that reintroduced the blues sound to America.
During the 1960s, the UK was the location for a vibrant social revolution. London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle all had their own music scenes. Musicians from Belfast and Glasgow moved to London to be part of the club scene there.
The post-war traditional jazz and folk revival movements produced the fertile ground for a new kind of blues music - entirely influenced by the authentic black blues of the USA, and, for the most part, entirely ignored by the good citizens of the US. It was new in the sense that certain key musicians took the blues and molded it in an entirely personal way to fit the new awareness of the UK in the sixties. Importantly, for the most part they continued to pay homage to the originators of the music and to make a huge global audience aware of the likes of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Freddie King, etc.
Mike Figgis' film examines the circumstances of this vibrant period. Figgis himself participated, albeit in a minor way, in this period of history, playing in a blues band with Bryan Ferry, a band that was the nucleus for the first Roxy Music.
A series of musical interviews with the key players of the blues movement is augmented with a live session at the famous Abbey Road recording studios. Tom Jones, Jeff Beck, Van Morrison, and Lulu all improvise around some classic blues standards, accompanied by a superb band made up of younger and not-so-younger-musicians. The results are electrifying.
Says Figgis: "I'm interested in why there was such excitement about this black music among Europeans. To that end, I've put together a group of these musicians, augmenting the line-up with some younger talent as well. Hopefully the resulting recording session of some blues standards, and the discussions that follow, shine some light on why at a particular moment the blues was reinterpreted abroad and reintroduced in a new form that was universally embraced."