The Blues (2003)
2 user 3 critic

Red, White and Blues 

Documenting the blues explosion in 1960's England and it's influence and reinterpretation by musicians at the time.


Mike Figgis


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Episode credited cast:
Ginger Baker ... Himself (archive footage) (as Cream)
Chris Barber Chris Barber ... Himself
Jeff Beck ... Himself
Booker T. & the M.G.s ... Themselves (archive footage)
Big Bill Broonzy Big Bill Broonzy ... Himself (archive footage)
Jack Bruce ... Himself (archive footage) (as Cream)
Eric Burdon ... Himself
Eric Clapton ... Himself
Jon Cleary Jon Cleary ... Himself
Elvis Costello ... Himself
James Cotton James Cotton ... Himself (archive footage)
Cream ... Themselves (archive footage)
Lonnie Donegan Lonnie Donegan ... Himself
Jack Elliott ... Himself (as Ramblin' Jack Elliott; archive footage)
Georgie Fame Georgie Fame ... Himself


Documenting the blues explosion in 1960's England and it's influence and reinterpretation by musicians at the time.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Documentary | Music



Official Sites:

PBS [United States]


Germany | UK

Release Date:

3 October 2003 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


Rollin' and Tumblin'
Written by Muddy Waters (as McKinley Morganfield)
Performed by Jeff Beck
See more »

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User Reviews

The Blues in America... SAVED by the British Invasion!
3 February 2010 | by joemikejake-652-56466See all my reviews

If you even just sort of like the Blues, you might need to own this disc. For my money, the best parts were the recent live recordings by Van Morrison, Tom Jones, Jeff Beck and Lulu. You will be stunned.

In the opening scene, Van Morrison walking into an Abbey Road session, liking the vibe, picking up a guitar and diving into the song. To quote Eric Clapton later on in the material, I was gob-smacked! I've always liked Tom Jones' voice and presence but he just blew me away here. His love of the Blues and his understanding of that genre were something I had no idea about prior to watching this originally on PBS.

Then there's Jeff Beck. Back in the late 60's and early 70's, I was a big Jeff Beck fan especially of his guitar mastery. Here again, no idea about his feel for the Blues. The song "Drown in my own tears" with him on guitar and Lulu on vocal is something to be savored and treasured. When you watch this one, remember that Jeff Beck is over 60 years old... (born in June 1944) he's pure magic without the tricks. Watch his finger work on both hands particularly his string-bending. This is the 'real deal' when it comes to guitar playing.

Lulu was an unexpected surprise in all of this. What a marvelous voice and feel for the Blues material here! She makes you feel the ache.... the phrase "hurts so good" comes to mind. Wow.

O.K., back to our story... who'd a thunk that a bunch of white British kids would introduce the Blues to America? That's right. That's what this disc details - the path of the Blues from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago and Detroit to Britain and back to America.

Back in the 50's and early 60's, the Brits had no compunctions about black musicians having white girlfriends and wives and so they listened, accepted, and came to love these gifted individuals and the music they brought with them. For those "mixed race couples" reasons, the USA turned it's back on them and would not allow their music to be played on most radio stations. However, down south, white kids were listening to it on their transistors late at night... under the covers.

Meanwhile over in England, Clapton, Beck, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, the Beatles, Van Morrison, Mick Fleetwood... were all tremendously influenced by the Blues ala Muddy Waters, Albert King, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, etc. Only thing is, they got it direct from the Horse's Mouth.

When these folks and THEIR bands came to America, they brought the Blues with them in the songs they covered, and Americans said, "WHAT is THAT?" Because black musicians weren't played on mainstream radio stations, nobody had heard them before. So the message of the Blues had to migrate to England first before we could even pay attention. Because white musicians were the ones who brought it back, it was then accepted by mainstream America. If you love the Blues today, you owe a tremendous debt to the Brits.

This DVD chronicles that journey. The steps it took to complete it are outlined and elucidated by many, many British musicians whose love for the Blues just can't be hidden. In many cases, they were allowed to go up on stage and play behind these ambassadors of the Blues when they first hit England. Their admiration for the simplicity and feeling that are the key elements of great Blues material and the playing of it is readily apparent. For those reasons, this DVD will become a sparkling gem in any collection of Blues music and video you may already own.

Don't forget to scour the Special Features section on the DVD as well. Some very interesting, first rate stuff to be found there. The more I watch this disc, the more I feel like I'm in on some kind of very cool secret. I promise you won't be disappointed.

After viewing the DVD several times, I also bought the companion CD which features full length versions of the songs featured in the documentary. Pure audio dynamite!

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