Living Blues - pp.43-4
"It was a great show, and this documentation is the next best thing to having been there."
Lightning in a Bottle is the double-disc soundtrack to the documentary film of the same title directed by Antoine Fuqua and shot at a February 7, 2003, concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Billed as a "Salute to the Blues," the show featured veteran blues musicians as well as a younger generation of players and artists either directly working in the genre or deeply influenced by it, and the running order follows the evolution of blues from Africa, up the Mississippi, and through Chicago and beyond. With a crack house band of Steve Jordan and/or Levon Helm on drums, Dr. John on piano, Willie Weeks on bass, and Danny Kortchmar on guitar, Lightning in a Bottle has quite a few high points, including Macy Gray's version of Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog," Bonnie Raitt's "Coming Home," and the deep Southern gospel soul of Solomon Burke on "Turn On Your Love Light." Also impressive is David "Honeyboy" Edwards' stark and haunting solo acoustic rendering of "Gamblin' Man." Mavis Staples arguably stole the show, however, with her huge, shuffling, and ominous take on Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean." The shifts and mutations of the blues from an acoustic music to an electric one are traced, ending in Chuck D and the Fine Art Militia's thundering rap version of John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom." The CD set lacks some of the music actually performed in the film, however, so the best way to catch this moving concert in its entirety is on DVD, which also includes backstage footage and interviews. ~ Steve Leggett