Tuesday, March 25, 2014

20 Feet From Stardom DVD 2013

This is a fine little documentary of several great background singers, each who contributed wonderful sounds to other artists' recordings.

The singers themselves are interviewed both in archival footage and today. Springsteen, Sting, Mick Jagger, and Stevie Wonder offer the stars' take on, and appreciation of, the background vocalists.

The singers also get to tell their own stories, and most of them are heartwarming and sweet, despite hard times. Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega, Stevvi Alexander, Claudia Lennear, and Cissy Houston all get their due. Several of them recorded solo projects, usually with less than great commercial success, and several talk frankly about wanting to deliberately stay in the background.

Where I beg to differ with the movie is the inclusion of Darlene Love in too much of the movie's time. Love is indeed a fine singer, and has done her share of background work, but first she was a lead vocalist. Shame indeed that the wacked Phil Spector choose to bill her best work as the Crystals, but hey, this is not the time nor the place. The movie get's sucked into Love's personal crap, and that is too bad.

It's well worth ninety minutes of your time, despite its flaws. There's good music, and some old footage of David Bowie that's fun to see. The women are remarkable singers all, and Lisa Fischer does some stuff with her voice that is hard to believe, even as you see it before your very eyes.

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