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on May 3, 2007
I saw this entire 2-hour show on New York's PBS station last night and it was great. You can feel Ahmet's passion for music as he relates his childhood experiences in Turkey, his passion for America ("the land of cowboys, dancing girls and jazz") and explains the formation of Atlantic Records.

Rather than become a diplomat or a "civil servant like my father" (Ahmet's father was the Turkish ambassador to the U.S.), Ahmet and his brother created America's most important record company. The story of Atlantic Records is as much about racial integration and artistic integrity as it as about music.

It's also great to hear the musicians' side of the story. The very recent footage of conversations between Ahmet and Robert Plant, Ray Charles, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Bette Midler really shows the respect and admiration all these great artists had for him.

Finally, this is an entertaining show, featuring some great laugh-out-loud moments. My favorite is when Ahmet tells of how, as a 12-year old, he hailed a cab in mid-town Manhattan and said to the driver "Take me to Harlem." All he wanted to do was hear some jazz and within a few minutes, he found himself at the Plantation Club and later, at a rent party rubbing elbows with musicians and dancing girls.

Having grown up listening to Atlantic artists like Led Zeppelin, the Stones, Crosby, Stills & Nash, etc., I found this show absolutely fascinating.
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VINE VOICEon May 14, 2007
This program is enormously entertaining, with tons of great footage of the artists, interviews, and hilarious anecdotes. I worked at Atlantic for several years and can attest that this documentary delivers an informative survey of the man and the label (though i could argue about certain artist omissions), which produced so much great music covering every genre. If you're a serious pop/rock/R&B/jazz fan, you really owe it to yourself to see this, and if you want to learn more about Mr. Ertegun and Atlantic, i HIGHLY recommend the book he wrote several years ago, "What'd I Say", which has hundreds of stunning photos and commentary from him and the others (artists and executives) who made it all happen at Atlantic (the book is pricey, but totally worth the money - product link is below)

What'd I Say: The Atlantic Story
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VINE VOICEon May 2, 2007
I just got done being transfixed by this program on American Masters on PBS. Ahmet Ertegun's life was incredibly full, full of joy and music for many years. From the "race" records of the 40's to the British Invasion to Woodstock to Kid Rock, the fingers of Ahmet Ertegun and his brother were on the pulse of popular music on both sides of the Atlantic. I enjoyed this show so much I've pre-ordered two copies.
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on February 3, 2008
What is there is excellent, but I gave it 3 stars because of what they left out. What happened to all the great jazz that Atlantic put out? You'd hardly know that the label was a major force in jazz from the DVD. I mean Mingus, Coltrane, Ornette and a whole bunch more ... How can you ignore these people??
I hope this will be redone properly one day.
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on July 21, 2007
This was a great documentary, but it is only part of the story. I met Ahmet back in 1976 when he was helping Mic Jagger form his own label and they were recording my friend, bluesman Luther Allison. I recently saw Ahmet again at the Jazz Musuem of Harlem promoting the music he loved best, jazz. Even in his last years ,he never stopped tirelessly pushing jazz and black music in general. He was always headed to somewhere to try to keep the music and the legacy alive.
I say part of the real story, because I know many of the artists that were with Atlantic and most were unhappy about the way they were treated there. Ruth Brown, who helped build Atlantic, had to secure work as a domestic to survive... whereas Mic Jagger has never looked back.
This documentary is only deals with the Ready for Prime Time story of what Atlantic did. There were decisions that affected a lot of people involved with Atlantic, that were unfavorable to them. Why do you think Ray Charles left? As you watch the movie , you have to read between the lines.
Ahmet confronted racism, but sometimes he was also a part of it. The needs of the business often overshadowed what he knew was right. Still what he did was invaluable to music , as we know it in America.
He says in the film that there are only two types of music in America, 'there is black music and then there are those who imitate black music'... a very profound, sad and true statement that most do not want to recognize or accept.
So this movie is one slice of the story. Out of the light of the cameras , you will hear a much different one.. as I have.
It is still worth having because it is a major part the history of music in this country. I also pre-ordered a copy and now I can enjoy it whenever I like. I can use it to educate kids that are too young to remember it as I did. I grew up with Atlantic. One of my first 45-rpm records was Aretha singing "Respect". But I had heard the Alantic artists all thru my childhood.
Ahmet Artegun is an American hero. He gave the world music that we still enjoy today. The music he recorded has influenced every artist since the label was created. This film should be viewed by any serious student of American music or of American history. The music reflected the times and the changes in our culture. It shows the good and the bad, if you read between the lines.
Who will take up the cause now that Ahmet is gone? Who will fight to see that Americans greatest and only art form, black music, is not forgotten. Maybe some teen watching this film will be the next restless soul and try to seek justice for those who are often forgotten.
The world will never be able to repay the debt it has to Ahmet for what he has done to enrich the lives of all of us. He triumphed not because of America, but in spite of it.
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on August 30, 2007
for me to order a DVD of a show I have already seen w/o commercials, no less, it has to be extra-ordinary.
And nothing ordinary about it I might add post haste

A fun, somewhat behind the scenes look at the house that Ahmet did in fact build.

But for me, its the look on the faces and the quietness of the rock superstars, the reverence without arrogance that is paid to Ahmet that compells me to make the purchase
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on October 30, 2008
For those individuals who like to look beyond the music and see who really made the music happen, this video is a must see. It reveals a "who's who" of the music industry with all the comments from the signature artists of Atlantic Records. One glaring absence, in my opinion, was an appearance by or any comments from the (Young) Rascals, one of my all time favorite Atlantic groups. (Perhaps an ugly contract disagreement at the end of their careers? Just my guess...)

From a corporate point of view, the film reveals very astute business decisions to continue to re-invent the company as musical tastes changed over time. From Ahmet's early love of Black musicians and jazz, to the British invasion sounds of the Stones, Led Zep, and Emerson/Lake & Palmer, he obviously could see the future and where the money was to be made.

Readers of this review should also be interested in viewing "The Language of Music: the Tom Dowd Story". Tom was one of the top producers/engineers for Atlantic Records during its hey-day. A friend of mine here in South Florida had the privelege of working with Dowd at Criteria Studios in Miami the night Derek & the Dominos recorded "Layla". He said Dowd was so taken by the magic of the session that he (my friend) was left to operate the board! No pressure!

These two DVDs, when considered together, give the viewer a quality insight into the "behind the scenes" aspects of the music industry as it unfolded at Atlantic. If you love the music of the 60's, then you will definitely enjoy both videos.
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on June 10, 2008
While the talent discoveries of executive music industry luminaries such as Berry Gordy and Clive Davis have been celebrated in the media and lionized in pop music history, Ahmet is perhaps the greatest (in terms of significant artists signed) A&R man the industry has ever known.

Discovering John Mingus, John Coltrane, Wynton Marsalis, the Clovers, the Coasters, the Drifters, Ben E. King, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Roberta Flack, Eric Clapton, Chic, and Kid Rock. He was also instrumental in galvanizing the careers of Booker T. and the MGs, Aretha Franklin, Phil Collins, and Bette Midler - to name a few.

His story, primarily told by Ahmet himself with the help of many of the aforementioned artists, chronlogically documents his life using excerpts of archived footage. It poignantly takes you from the beginning of his journey as the son of a Turkish amabassador, to entrepreneurial owner of his own thriving independent label, to revamped executive at Time Warner owned Atlantic.

Ahmet, who created the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, is the only industry veteran to publicly acknowledge and properly credit black music, in addition to instigating the first financial reparations to black artists for misleading industry practices. He becomes more endearing and engaging the longer this DVD plays on. His should be remembered for how he used his talent to cultivate talent, follow his dreams with tenacity, and inspire others to do the same.

Buy this well-produced DVD of a music lover and music business legend today!
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on February 9, 2010
I thought this was a documentary but it's a celebration of Ahmet Ertegun, a promotional piece. Don't look for an impartial portrayal. Ertegun appears fun loving and likable enough. As a kid he loved Jazz and he pays lip service to "Black Music" throughout the film. But, as one reviewer noted, where are the Jazz musicians he recorded? Kid Rock freestyles something to the effect that Ahmet is the blackest cat he knows. What nonsense. Which "Black" are they talking about and why can they get away with these meaningless generalizations? I mean, really, can music be described as "Black" if Ertegun or Lieber and Stoller wrote the lyrics. Another reviewer noted the way in which Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler dealt with Stax Records. These men were not altruists driven by a love of music as the film claims, they were opportunists. The best part of the film is the short clip of Aretha in the studio back in '60s, you catch a glimpse of Tommy Cogbill, Jimmy Johnson and Roger Hawkins (the Muscle Shoals Studio musicians) laying down the groove. Does it get any better than Aretha and The Swampers? I wish I could have seen more. Instead, we're given an extra large helping of Phil Collins and narrator Bette Midler! Need I say more?
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on April 18, 2008
Interesting, yet incomplete biography on Atlantic's history, but it needs to be noted that the distribution arrangement that Stax entered with Atlantic has a very dark side to it that is played down. Ertegun and Wexler destroyed Stax with a shady distribution contract that robbed Stax of their masters and left the label with nothing in their catalog! Stax later recovered by sheer force of will, thanks to the artists and the vision of Al Bell. Watch 'Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story' to balance out the 'Ahmet story'.
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