While there was certainly little to complain about on the original issue of the soundtrack for Standing in the Shadows of Motown, for those who truly sought the magic of the Funk Brothers, this deluxe edition is what they longed for all along. This two-disc collection contains the soundtrack of the Allan Slutsky/Harry Weinger film -- plus three bonus tracks -- from that historic night at the Royal Oak Music Theater just outside of Detroit. It pairs what was left of the original Motown session gang and their heirs with a host of vocalists, including Joan Osborne, Chaka Khan, Bootsy Collins, Montell Jordan, Me'Shell NdegéOcello, Ben Harper, and Gerald LeVert interpreting the classics. The extra soundtrack cuts feature John Lee Hooker, Jackie Wilson, and Dennis Coffey with the Detroit Guitar Band. But on disc two, the entire grail becomes attainable. Here are 15 musical tracks, the original instrumental sides from "the Snakepit" of the Motown studios, with little or no vocal accompaniment, remixed from the ground up. The producers broke down and mapped out each verse, bridge, chorus, and vamp on paper first. Phone calls were made to the living members and then each tune was knotted together from the recorded evidence, using the input of the Funks and the added guitars of Dennis Coffey and Wah Wah Watson.
What comes across is the Brothers zeroing in on and stretching the groove with grit, grease, and soul from the floor of Studio A. Here are the popping rhythms of "Standing in the Shadows of Love," "The One Who Really Loves You," Norman Whitfield's "Pride and Joy," and Smokey's "My Girl," along with the dubs of "The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game," "I Was Made to Love Her," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," and more. Interspersed are dialogue tracks where the dwellers of the Snakepit speak, like Joe Hunter, Pistol Allen, Jack Ashford, et al. There is one cut that breaks the rules: the final selection on the disc, the version of "You're My Everything" with James Jamerson. Here are David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks singing, handing off the lead vocal on tape with Jamerson punched in as a way of balancing the rhythm. It's just the Temps and Jamerson's bass running over the vocal arrangement. In other words, it's a whole different aspect of the "rhythm" track and perhaps the most startling evidence of how truly unique the Funk Brothers were. Certainly, a lot of this will piss off purists, but it can't be helped. For everyone else, this is a beautiful and moving document that offers what the soundtrack tried to, and is the real reason to make this purchase. It could have been made available on its own, but corporate marketing strategies being what they are, this is as good as it's going to get and the only way to get this bit of groove history.