Somewhat similar to many of the soul revival package tours crossing the globe, Only the Strong Survive is a movie that takes some of soul music's biggest legends and has them perform before the cameras in a live audience setting. This concert recording brings back many familiar names to the stage, with Wilson Pickett, Isaac Hayes, Mary Wilson, Rufus Thomas, and the Chi-Lites, among others, performing some of their most well-known songs. While many of the singers still have retained their powerful, intense vocal abilities over the years, the group seems to juxtapose the original recordings by performing in an overly chorused, almost synthetic environment -- almost a complete turnaround from the compressed, almost dirty original versions that served as a catalyst to oozing honest soul out of black vinyl. If this one sonic flaw can be overlooked and forgiven, then Only the Strong Survive is a solid record from start to finish that will entertain the most die-hard soul connoisseur and act as a perfect catalyst to the casual listener. It's great to see these artists finally getting recognition for their genius work after long years out of the mainstream commercial spotlight, and kudos to filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker for taking on such an ambitious task.
AllMusic Review by Rob Theakston