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Lightning in a Bottle

120 customer reviews

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(Mar 08, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On February 7, 2003, renowned artists across music genres and generations commandeered the stage atNew York City's Radio City Music Hall to pay tribute to their common heritage and passion: the blues. Shared with thousands of fans in attendance, legendary performers from the roots of rock, jazz,and rap joined forces for a once-in-a-lifetime salute to the blues benefit concert whose proceeds went to musical education. Executive produced by Martin Scorcese, produced by Alex Gibney and directed by Antoine Fuqua, LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE captures the night's magic and weaves a history of blues through the juxtaposition of performers, backstage interviews, rehearsals, and archival clips of some of the greatest names in American music, from blues royalty like Buddy Guy and B. B. King to theirmusical heirs ranging from John Fogerty and Bonnie Raitt to Mos Def and Indie.Arie.


Part concert, part history lesson, part summit meeting, and all blues, Lightning in a Bottle puts a bright spotlight on this quintessential American music. There are some heavy hitters at work here, both behind the camera (Martin Scorsese executive produced, while the film was directed by Antoine Fuqua of Training Day and King Arthur) and especially in front of it, with a superb house band and a mind-boggling array of musicians (including B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Solomon Burke, Keb' Mo', Macy Gray, the Neville Brothers, Robert Cray, and John Fogerty, to name but a few) performing at New York's Radio City Music Hall in February, 2003. The idea was to trace the music from its beginnings; thus we get an African song (by Angelique Kidjo), some early gospel blues (the great Mavis Staples), acoustic Delta blues, and so on, right up to blues-drenched electric rock and even some rap (a riveting version of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor" by Chuck D.). Virtually all of the immortals who defined the blues (Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and even Jimi Hendrix, whose fiery style is re-enacted by Buddy Guy) enter the picture, either through vintage film clips or new performances of their songs. One might wish for more insight into the influence of the blues on jazz (Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit," sung here by India.Arie, is a fine song, but it's not a blues tune) or country, but overall, Lightning in a Bottle is an edifying and, most important, highly entertaining portrait of the music and its heritage. --Sam Graham

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Buddy Guy, Ruth Brown, Natalie Cole, BB King, Bonnie Raitt
  • Directors: Antoine Fuqua
  • Producers: Alex Gibney, Jack Gulick, Margaret Bodde
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 8, 2005
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00078RPGW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,230 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Lightning in a Bottle" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Perry Celestino on April 16, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This memorable concert was filmed at New York's Radio City Music Hall in February 2003. It was the start of the "Year Of the Blues". Martin Scorsese, who gave us the wonderful (but a bit controversial content-wise) series of Blues Films (which took over a year to be screened and available here in Australia) opens the show, after the Blues Year he was also a voice in "Shark's tale"!

There is no denying that this is a memorable and well presented concert. Many of the greatest living Blues players are here as well as those we might refer to as marginal-transitional people with Blues interests. Some we don't get to hear, Robert Jr Lockwood and Jimmie Vaughan are seen, but not heard. the concert itself represents a musical journey through various Blues styles from African songs, to WC Handy, to music hall styles, women singers, the lone Juke Player right up through B.B. King and Hendrix and, yes, Chuck D trying to stop the Iraq Invasion with "Boom Boom" Rap!

This DVD is most enjoyable and a great and reasonably priced addition to one's music library. Highlights for me include B.B. King's story about "Sweet Sixteen" and his performance. Robert Cray's input, as usual is outstanding with his clean understated guitar work. David "Honeyboy" Edwards, who knew Robert Johnson, provides a rare self-penned tune (he mostly did covers during his career), Hubert Sumlin (who has just lost a lung!!; and was smoking in the interview!!!!; and who I got to meet in 1991) plays a great rendition of "Killing Floor" with the riff he made famous for Howlin' Wolf. Natalie Cole (a comeback?
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 24, 2005
Format: DVD
Billed as "a one night history of the blues," Lightning in a Bottle (with Martin Scorsese serving as executive producer) assembles a ton of great performers to retrace the steps of the blues from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago to the rest of the country. The concert took place in Radio City Music Hall in February 2003, and it packs a lot of music and history into a little less than two hours. Old clips, interviews, and snippets of rehearsal accompany the performances themselves, offering a blues history lesson of sorts. I won't pretend to be an expert on the blues; Muddy Waters is about the only blues singer I've ever spent time seriously listening to. That will probably change, now that I know a little more about the incredible music I've been missing out on all these years.

It would be impossible to talk about every performance crammed into this concert - blues songs tend to be pretty short (especially when you don't include any jam session stuff), so an incredible number of songs were performed on this historic night. Go check out the soundtrack to see who performed what. All of the living legends were fantastic, and their vintage blues is still the best blues on earth. Mavis Staple really gets the ball rolling with her spiritual performance of Blind Lemon Jefferson's See That My Grave is Kept Clean. David "Honeyboy" Edwards (at 88) still shows the world what acoustic Delta blues was all about with his performance of Gamblin' Man. The incomparable Clarence "Gateway" Brown plays Okie Dokie Swamp like only he can. Hubert Sumlin, despite having recently lost a lung, pours great energy into Killing Floor (although I thought singer David Johansen came off as hopelessly contrived).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Farr on July 20, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Attention, rhythm and blues fans- this is your movie! Exhilarating, toe-tapping performance film gives you a front-row seat for this milestone event, with peerless musicians young and old honoring the birth of the blues. Macy Gray and Steven Tyler, Natalie Cole and Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt and Keb Mo, and John Fogerty and B.B King appear to pay tribute and light up the auditorium with their joy and talent. What a ride!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jack Simmons on June 26, 2005
Format: DVD
This is a time capsule of blues music. It will be looked at for ages, and like the blues, will not fade like the fashion of the day. This is such an enjoyable concert film, that paces itself wonderfully. The rap and the only political statement utterd by chuck d serves a wonderful purpose. It shows that musically rap has no place, is woefully inferior, and can't exist outside of itself.Chuck D and his performance is embarassing, and anyone who views this dvd years from now will see how our culture momentarily slipped and lost it's way. It will be a mystery how such a great evening of music of was tainted with such a one dimensional,tired, and talentless hype they call "rap" It is so completely out of place, historically, and without question musically. The rest of the dvd is a labor of love, and recorded like your favorite cd. A MUST OWN.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Jeffery on June 1, 2007
Format: DVD
I share some of the other reviewers' regrets that I was not able to be there at Radio City Music Hall for this concert. It certainly is a great concert, but it is much more than that. It is history, great history, but it is more. It is the blues, definitely the blues, and more than the blues. What it is is "real". It is an event. It is real in a way that few concerts ever attempt to be. It is an event that few if any concerts can ever hope to be. It is real specifically because it is the people of the blues just as they are. It is the realities of the personalities, and their lives that made the blues what only the blues can be. There are moments during this concert, this event, when any true lover of the blues must shed tears of joy. This reviewer deeply appreciates those who made this event possible. I am certain that hard choices had to be made as to what to include, and what not to include, given the time parameters involved. Certain selections may not please all blues afficionados, but there it is.
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