It isn't exactly difficult to scoff at the Blues Brothers -- beginning your musical career as a sketch on Saturday Night Live is not the best way to develop artistic credibility, and while Elwood Blues wasn't too shabby a harp player, his brother, Joliet Jake, sang only marginally better than that guy who used to impersonate Joe Cocker on late-night television. But no one ever bought a Blues Brothers album expecting a life-changing musical experience -- these guys were there to put on a show, and putting on a great show is just what they did. It helped that Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi obviously loved the music, and they knew how to put together a killer band (any fan with the vision to hire Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Steve Jordan, and Matt "Guitar" Murphy" to cover classic blues and R&B deserves credit for good taste, if nothing else). The Definitive Collection pulls together highlights from the band's debut live album, Briefcase Full of Blues, as well as cuts from the soundtrack to The Blues Brothers movie (including contributions from Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin) and the second, rather less-remembered live set Made in America. Anyone who buys this without owning a decent Otis Redding or Sam & Dave set first ought to be ashamed of themselves, but as a one-stop overview of the work of two dedicated R&B fans having a great time playing the songs they love, you could hardly do better than The Definitive Collection. Play it loud and dance a lot -- John would have wanted it that way.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming
feat: Aretha Franklin