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Standing in the Shadows of Motown

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Standing in the Shadows of Motown
Theatrical release poster for Standing in the Shadows of Motown
Directed byPaul Justman
Written byWalter Dallas,
Ntozake Shange,
Allan Slutsky
Produced byPaul Justman
Sandford Passman
Allan Slutsky
Narrated byAndre Braugher
Distributed byArtisan Entertainment
Release date
  • November 15, 2002 (2002-11-15)
Running time
116 mins
CountryUnited States

Standing in the Shadows of Motown is a 2002 American documentary film directed by Paul Justman that recounts the story of the Funk Brothers, the uncredited and largely unheralded studio musicians who were the house band that Berry Gordy hand-picked in 1959.


The Funk Brothers recorded and performed on Motown's recordings from 1959 to 1972.[1] The film was inspired by the 1989 book Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson, a bass guitar instruction book by Allan Slutsky, which features a biography of James Jamerson along with his bass lines.[2]

The film covers the Funk Brothers' career via interviews with surviving band members, archival footage and still photos, dramatized re-enactments, and narration by actor Andre Braugher. The film also features new live performances of several Motown hit songs, with the Funk Brothers backing up Gerald Levert, Me'shell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Ben Harper, Bootsy Collins, Chaka Khan, and Montell Jordan.[1]

The impetus behind making the film was to bring these influential players out of anonymity. In addition to bassist James Jamerson, the Funk Brothers consisted of the following musicians: Jack Ashford (percussion); Bob Babbitt (bass); Joe Hunter (keyboards); Uriel Jones (drums); Joe Messina (guitar); Eddie Willis (guitar); Richard "Pistol" Allen (drums); Benny "Papa Zita" Benjamin (drums); Eddie "Bongo" Brown (percussion); Johnny Griffith (keyboards); Earl Van Dyke (keyboards); and Robert White (guitar).

The Funk Brothers produced more hits than the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and Elvis Presley combined. It was their sound, according to Mary Wilson (of the Supremes), that backed the Temptations, the Supremes, the Miracles, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Mary Wells, among other noteworthy bands during their tenure from 1959 to 1972.[3]

Soundtrack album[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores

Released by Hip-O Records.

  1. "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave" – Joan Osborne
  2. "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" – Meshell Ndegeocello
  3. "Do You Love Me" – Bootsy Collins
  4. "Bernadette" – The Funk Brothers
  5. "Reach Out I'll Be There" – Gerald Levert
  6. "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" - Ben Harper
  7. "Shotgun" – Gerald Levert featuring Tom Scott
  8. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" – Joan Osborne
  9. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" – Ben Harper
  10. "You Keep Me Hangin' On" – The Funk Brothers
  11. "Cool Jerk" – Bootsy Collins
  12. "Cloud Nine" – Meshell Ndegeocello
  13. "What's Going On" – Chaka Khan
  14. Band Introduction/"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" – Chaka Khan & Montell Jordan
  15. "The Flick" – Earl Van Dyke
  16. "Boom Boom" – John Lee Hooker [Deluxe Edition bonus track]
  17. "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" – Jackie Wilson [Deluxe Edition bonus track]
  18. "Scorpio" – Dennis Coffey & The Detroit Guitar Band [Deluxe Edition bonus track]

In The Snakepit: Naked Instrumental Remixes Of The Original Hits
Deluxe Edition bonus CD, 2004

  1. "Funk Brothers in the House" – Bootsy Collins
  2. "Standing in the Shadows of Love" – The Funk Brothers
  3. Dialogue: Joe Hunter, in the beginning – Joe Hunter
  4. "The One Who Really Loves You" – The Funk Brothers
  5. "Pride and Joy" – The Funk Brothers
  6. Dialogue: Robert White invents a classic – Robert White
  7. "My Girl" – The Funk Brothers
  8. "Love Is Like an Itching in My Heart" – The Funk Brothers
  9. "Don't Mess with Bill" (Live) – The Funk Brothers
  10. "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game" – The Funk Brothers
  11. Dialogue: Eddie, Uriel and Jack speaking the "language" – Eddie Willis, Uriel Jones & Jack Ashford
  12. "I Second That Emotion" – The Funk Brothers
  13. "I Was Made to Love Her" – The Funk Brothers
  14. Dialogue: "Pistol" picks up the beat – Richard "Pistol" Allen
  15. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (Gladys Knight & the Pips version) – The Funk Brothers
  16. "Home Cookin'" – The Funk Brothers
  17. "For Once in My Life" – The Funk Brothers
  18. Dialogue: Jack in the club groove – Jack Ashford
  19. "I Can't Get Next to You" – The Funk Brothers
  20. "It's a Shame" – The Funk Brothers
  21. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (Diana Ross version) – The Funk Brothers
  22. Dialogue: Eddie takes it to the bridge – Eddie Willis
  23. "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" – The Funk Brothers
  24. Dialogue: Feeling the Funk, Brother – Lamont Dozier
  25. "You're My Everything" – James Jamerson & The Temptations (Bonus Track)


Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and VHS on April 22, 2003.[5]


  1. ^ a b Ellis, Karen (December 14, 2001). "The Funk Brothers". Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  2. ^ Colin Devenish (December 19, 2002). "Motown's Lost Heroes Emerge". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 21, 2019. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  3. ^ Jones, Steve (November 28, 2002). "Motown's Funk Brothers cast long 'Shadows'". USA Today. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  4. ^ William Ruhlmann. "AllMusic: Standing in the Shadows of Motown [Original Soundtrack] – review". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 5, 2017. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  5. ^ Villa, Joan (February 28, 2003). "Motown Among Grammy Winners". Hive4media.com. Archived from the original on March 22, 2003. Retrieved September 29, 2019.

External links[edit]