Essential Atlantic: The Blues Brothers, BRIEFCASE FULL OF BLUES

Thursday, May 7, 2020
The Blues Brothers BRIEFCASE FULL OF BLUES Cover

For the next several weeks (or maybe just until we decide that we want to stop doing it, since normalcy seems likely to remain on hiatus for the foreseeable future), will be spotlighting an album from the Atlantic Records discography that qualifies as “Essential.” And what rigorous standards and/or mathematical algorithm did we use to come up with the criteria to define “Essential,” you ask? None at all. You’ll just have to trust our instincts. But they’re really good, we swear...

As comedians, their names were John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, but after slapping on matching suits and hats and stepping in front of microphones, they became “Joliet Jake” and Elwood Blues, otherwise known as The Blues Brothers. This transformation first took place when both members of the twosome were cast members of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, part of the so-called Not Ready for Prime Time Players, and the show was so popular at the time that Aykroyd and Belushi were able to open for Steve Martin at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles.

As it happens, it was that very show where BRIEFCASE FULL OF BLUES was recorded, and when it was released, it climbed to the very top of the Billboard 200 and spawned two top-40 hits: “Soul Man,” originally recorded by Sam & Dave, and “Rubber Biscuit,” a novelty tune first recorded by The Chips. Other tunes on the album include covers of songs by Otis Redding (“I Can’t Turn You Loose”), Floyd Dixon (“Hey Bartender”), Junior Wells (“Messin’ with the Kid”), King Floyd (“Groove Me”), and Big Joe Turner (“Flip, Flop & Fly”), among others.

BRIEFCASE FULL OF BLUES eventually went on to go double platinum, which meant that a sequel was inevitable, and since Belushi and Aykroyd had already more than proven themselves as comedians, it also resulted in a feature film revolving around Jake and Elwood, which itself is also considered a classic...but you probably already knew that.

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