After the release of his extremely influential 1991 film Deep Blues, a look at Mississippi blues culture which was funded by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics and involved a collaboration with legendary music writer Robert Palmer, acclaimed music filmmaker Robert Mugge received a phone call.
The caller was Bruce Iglauer, founder and president of Alligator Records, the Chicago-based record label which had, over the past two decades, become the world’s most successful purveyor of blues-related product. Iglauer’s message to Mugge was simple: “We should know each other!” Mugge agreed, and from that initial phone call began a long-term friendship, as well as immediate collaboration on another feature-length blues film.
That film, 1992’s Pride And Joy: The Story Of Alligator Records, presents musical highlights from one of the 4-plus-hour concerts (March 12th at Philadelphia’s now-defunct Chestnut Cabaret) that made up the Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Tour, glimpses of Alligator’s Chicago offices, and profiles of key performers and staff members. The “pride and joy” on display are not only that of fine musical artists plying their trades, but also that of a passionate and highly principled entrepreneur succeeding in a business mostly controlled by corporate giants and littered with the wreckage of countless small, independent labels. Songs in the film include Pride and Joy and Ed’s Boogie (Lil’ Ed), Pussycat Moan and Lord, I Wonder (Katie Webster), El-Bo and Beer Drinking Woman (Elvin Bishop), I’d Rather Go Blind (Koko Taylor), Wife For Tonight and I Want All My Money Back (Lonnie Brooks), It’s A Dirty Job (Koko Taylor with Lonnie Brooks), and Sweet Home Chicago (final joint encore).
MVD Entertainment Group has announced the first Blu-ray release of this film which Jim Bessman of Billboard called “A fascinating look at the pivotal blues label…[with performances that are] uniformly dynamite.” For this release, the film has been newly transferred to HD from the original 16mm film and stereo audio masters and lovingly restored by the director. Also included on the Blu-ray are ten bonus songs taken from Alligator’s original 1992 tour and soundtrack CD, as well as the director’s new “making of” video titled Alligator Tales. As Peter Stack wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Fans of blues who wailed along with director Robert Mugge’s incisive documentary Deep Blues in 1991 have a new blues treat to bite into with Pride And Joy: The Story Of Alligator Records… Certain to have viewers dancing in the aisles.”
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