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Only the Strong Survive - A Celebration of Soul

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the winning spirit of Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, Only The Strong Survive brings together an amazing array of musical icons! With living legends such as Isaac Hayes, Herry Butler, Sam Moore, Wilson Pickett and Mary Wilson performing together on one stage, it's a dream revue of original artists and songs that won America's heart... and filled it with soul. Also featuring the Chi-Lites, Ann Peebles and Carla and Rufus Thomas... the night these legends come together will be a night you'll never forget!

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One reviewer has called Only the Strong Survive "an American Buena Vista Social Club," and that's not a bad way to describe this entertaining 2002 documentary. It certainly has a righteous pedigree: co-directors D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus have between them been responsible for films like Monterey Pop, Bob Dylan's Don't Look Back, Down from the Mountain, Startup.com, and numerous others; meanwhile, many of the great soul singers who appear here, including Isaac Hayes, Wilson Pickett, Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave), and Carla Thomas, have retained much of their power since their heydays decades ago. The interview portions are fun--we learn, for instance, that "the wicked Pickett" has a stash of $1,000 shirts and $6,000 suits--but it's the musical numbers that are the main attraction, and there are some good ones. Even better, the DVD's bonus features include half a dozen complete live performances not in the original film, along with audio commentary by legendary producer Jerry Wexler and several of the artists. Sure, it would have been nice if Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, and other living soul greats had also taken part, but hearing Eugene Record and the Chi-Lites singing "Oh Girl" is just about worth the price of admission alone. --Sam Graham

Special Features

  • Six additional live performances
  • "What is Soul" feature
  • "The Rufus and Jaye Show" comedy radio selections
  • Biography and discography notes for all artists

Product Details

  • Actors: Jerry Butler, The Chi-Lites, Isaac Hayes, Sam Moore, Amm Peebles
  • Directors: Chris Hegedus, D. A Pennebaker
  • Producers: Roger Friedman
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS ES)
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: January 6, 2012
  • Run Time: 1 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000TG9YM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,472 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Only the Strong Survive - A Celebration of Soul" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"Only the Strong Survive" features the late Rufus Thomas, daughter Carla Thomas, Mary Wilson, the incredible and incorrigible Wilson Pickett, Jerry Butler, Ann Peebles, The Chi-Lites, Isaac Hayes, and the man I first fell in love with when I was seven, Sam Moore, who used to be half of the group Sam & Dave. This isn't documentary storytelling like "Standing in the Shadows of Motown", but don't let anyone tell you it's not as good! For me, these were the people that infused my soul from babyhood, and at various times I found myself talking to the TV, restless, and totally caught up in the music.
I have to correct the editorial, Eugene Record wasn't with the group in this film, and hasn't been with the group for about fifteen years. He seems to be happy in gospel music these days. But as far as the Chi-Lites go, I wish they could have done "We Are Neighbors (whether we want to be or not)" It's a song the world needs to hear right now, next to "Power to the People".
The one standout performance for me was of course Sam's; his story is alternately tragic and uplifting, and as far as his performance goes, Jesus Christ, by the time he'd finished I was almost crying. I knew the song instantly, and it was as if thirty-five years hadn't gone by at all.
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Format: DVD
Let me say first that the performances themselves of the artists presented here are unianimously fantastic, and deserve repeated viewing. If you are a fan of soul music, and want to see the talented singers doing their great shows still somewhere before the excited audiences, this film is for you. And I really enjoyed the music part of the film.

Unfortunately, very few archive footages are used, and there is no James, Smokey, or Aretha. But the live performances (mainly from the year 1999-2000) are all wonderful. The artists recorded here include, Jerry Butler, The Chi-Lites, Isaac Hayes, Sam Moore, Ann Pebbles, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Wilson Pickett, and Mary Wilson. They all sing one song or two before the very lucky audiences.

But you may ask me, Why three stars. Oh, it's because of the directors, who do not show the due respect to the history of the soul music itself. D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus do not know which they want to make, documentary or live music recording. It seems (and probably is) that the crew only recorded whatever they can quickly, and put the footages together. How can they put Mary Wilson (ex-Supremes) and Isaac Hayes in the same film without explaining the history of the soul music? I don't see the point of putting them together except that they are both great artists.

Still some moments are very touching to see. Sam Moore reveals his painful past while he was selling illegal stuff on the street around 1973, and it's joyful to see Carla Thomas and Rufus Thomas having good time together.

As documentary 'Only the Strong Survive' is never informative. You see this movie, and your knowledge about this great music doesn't change. Still, the live performances from the recorded artists are all dynamic and thrilling.
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Format: DVD
I thought this was a great documentary and the performances were awesome. Compared to a lot of the programs that have been cropping up on PBS featuring performers from the 50s, 60s etc. I felt the folks in this documentary essentially left all others in the dust. What a gifted bunch...as vital, lively and talented as they were thirty years ago. And, oh boy, to see the "Memphis Queen" Carla Thomas again... See this!!
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Format: VHS Tape
Loved this presentation of staxx Records&the many Great Talents that brought the Grits&Gravy to Soul Music back in the day. great to See so Many Greats like Issac Hayes,Sam Moore,the Late Great Rufus Thomas,His Daughter Carla Thomas amongest others.must See.Wilson Pickett through down as well on here. this is Music History being presented.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Ok, right up I confess. I bought this because I owned it years ago in VHS format. Been on my Amazon wish list forever, so it seems. I have seen the Supremes member in person many times. The woman can sing folks. Her live shows are great. Her version of Sting's Fields Of Gold is the best. What a treat to hear her sing that song, but not on this DVD. You will have to purchase her concert DVD to hear that one.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I saw this film when it opened at the Kennedy Center a few years ago and bought the dvd because I am a huge fan of Mary Wilson, but I am highly disappointed in her performance because she is singing a Supremes song not particularly suitable for her smoky contralto. Mary's silky smooth sexy voice shines on ballads and mid-tempo gems highlighted on her "Live!" cd/dvd set she produced and available only on her website. "Amazon, do u hear me?"
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Format: DVD
This excellent film follows the stories of several soul and R&B legends who are still touring and performing (at the time of filming,anyway). Many of them are interviewed in depth, and we learn what their lives have been like since their 60's and 70s heyday.
Mary Wilson of the Supremes, for example, still tours and sings lead vocals on many Supremes classics she performs in concert. We also learn that she has been going back to school in recent years, to get a college degree she always wanted to get, but wasn't able to before now. Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave) and his wife are candid about his drug use and recovery. Jerry Butler still occasionally peforms, and is the commissioner of Cook County in Illinois.
The most interesting --and most moving-- part of the film is Rufus Thomas. Thomas is shown here in his 80's still going strong, still hosting his weekly radio show and performing in concert with his daughter Carla. Unfortunately, he passed away before the film was released.
The film includes concert footage of all the above performers as well as live footage of --and interviews with-- such acts as the Chi-Lites and Issac Hayes.
I wished there had been more live material, but the DVD does include six extra performances to make up for it. Fans of classic soul will want to see this.
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