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Music Video Distributors presents
Willie Dixon: I Am The Blues (2002)

"The blues are my heritage....and the blues are here to stay."
- Willie Dixon

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: January 27, 2003

Stars: Willie Dixon (Vocals/Stand-Up Bass)
Other Stars: Baby Doo Caston (Vocals, Piano And Organ), John Watkins (Guitar), Arthur "Butch" Dixon (Piano), Carey Bell Harrington (Chromatic Harmonica), Mike Morrison (Electric Bass), Clifton James (Drums)
Director: Robert Schwartz

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:59m:21s
Release Date: January 28, 2003
UPC: 022891134596
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- AC+B+ B

DVD Review

Although he didn't possess the stage presence of Muddy Waters or the lung power of Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon more than made up for it with his mind. Blessed with a knack for expressing the thoughts of the downhearted, he took that talent to the limit.

Over the course of almost half a century, he composed songs that not only moved his peers to record them but also inspired succeeding generations of writers, musicians and performers ranging from Elvis Presley to Robert Cray. With a discography of standards as long as Highway 61, Dixon tunes like I Just Want to Make Love to You, Hoochie Coochie Man, Spoonful and Little Red Rooster are still guaranteed to make the playlist of any history savvy blues outfit.

But his talents didn't stop at songwriting. Dixon was also an in-demand upright bass player at Chicago's legendary Chess Records recording studios in the mid-1950s, appearing on many of Chuck Berry's groundbreaking 45s including Roll Over Beethoven and Johnny B. Goode. In later years, Dixon served as a producer for projects such as selected cuts from the La Bamba soundtrack (where he collaborated with former label mate Bo Diddley on a re-make of Who Do You Love).

Willie Dixon: I Am the Blues captures the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame member in the twilight of his career, during a 1984 concert with the Chicago Blues All-Stars in support. Among the highlights of the gig are a spunky rendition of Built For Comfort and the stirring, little-known composition Peace; its simplistic lyrics and heartfelt sentiments make it a bluesy first cousin to John Lennon's Give Peace A Chance. Interspersed with the great music are warm recollections from Dixon as he covers topics ranging from composing to his mid 1960s re-emergence in England via cover versions of his best material courtesy of The Rolling Stones and Cream (which featured long time admirer Eric Clapton).

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The transfer is slightly faded; color correction would have been welcomed here. Visuals are not helped by the project's low budget (which had to be slightly lower than an electricity bill in the dead of winter). Still, it gives the proceedings an unintentional retro look.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Although only basic stereo, this old-school mix won't leave you moaning the blues. Well recorded, punchy and kicking with great low end, it suits the material perfectly.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Music/Song Access with 8 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Timeline
  2. Image Gallery
  3. Discography
  4. Hollywood Rock Walk
  5. Blues Haven Foundation
Extras Review: Although mainly text-based, the disc offers a surprising amount of Dixon-related material: Among the inclusions are an informative biography, educational primers on the Blues Heaven Foundation and Chess Records in Chicago (including tour details for the latter if you're up for a trip to 2120 S. Michigan Avenue) and a partial discography.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

One of the few visual documents devoted to one of the genre's founding fathers, Willie Dixon: I Am The Blues is an aptly titled keepsake and an eternal reminder of just how important this man was to the evolution of rock and roll as we know it.


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