Original Soundtrack

Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Godfathers and Sons

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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

The 22-track Godfathers and Sons compilation provides the soundtrack to filmmaker Marc Levin's chapter in Martin Scorcese Presents the Blues. Levin's film is one of the most pivotal in this series because it centers around the Chess brothers, their studio, and the birth of the Chicago sound. In other words, the sonic temple of the modern blues. As such, the music's high priests are here: Howlin' Wolf (whose amazing image adorns the cover), Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Reed, Etta James, Otis Rush, Koko Taylor, Bo Diddley, Little Walter, and some of the music's modern acolytes, from the Butterfield Blues Band, Magic Slim, and Lonnie Brooks to even Bob Dylan(!). The latter's "Maggie's Farm" is included because of its vocal phrasing and Michael Bloomfield's burning Chess-influenced guitar work. Also, Chicago rapper Common makes two appearances, one on his own Chicago blues-inspired "Doooinit" and another as part of the Electrik Mud Kats with Kyle Jason and Public Enemy's Chuck D, featuring guitarists Pete Cosey and Phil Upchurch doing a thoroughly ramped-up redo of Muddy's "Mannish Boy." The material by the classic bluesmen -- Reed's "Bright Lights, Big City," Wolf's "Evil," Waters' "Mannish Boy" and "Hoochie Koochie Man," as well as Walter's anthem "Key to the Highway" -- that, admittedly, would appear on any decent Chess anthology is augmented here by Rush's amazing "Walking the Backstreets and Crying," Guy's moving "I Cry and Sing the Blues," and Diddley's steaming shuffle "Diddley Daddy." Likewise James' performance of "I'd Rather Go Blind" is a new version, and Taylor's "I Got What It Takes" is an unexpected but singular pleasure. While there are other single-disc compilations of strictly Chess material, this one, produced by Marshall Chess, is unusual in that it reflects the entire gamut of the music's influence, from its Delta roots to the electric future of rock & roll and hip-hop.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Jimmy Rogers 02:40
2 Muddy Waters 02:54
3 Howlin' Wolf 02:45
4 Buddy Guy 03:15 Amazon
5 Jimmy Reed 02:40
6 Howlin' Wolf 02:54
7 Little Walter 02:45
8 Koko Taylor 03:01
9 Howlin' Wolf 02:26
10 Koko Taylor 03:07 Amazon
11 Otis Rush 05:59
12 Muddy Waters 02:50
13 Lonnie Brooks 05:36
14 Bo Diddley 02:28
15 Magic Slim 06:56
16 The Paul Butterfield Blues Band 03:07
17 The Paul Butterfield Blues Band 02:28
18 Bob Dylan 03:55
19 Public Enemy 01:57 Amazon
20 Common 03:38 Amazon
21 Electrik Mud Cats / Common / Chuck D / Kyle Jason 05:20
22 Etta James 02:33
blue highlight denotes track pick