Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: The Blues Brothers, Briefcase Full of Blues

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: The Blues Brothers, Briefcase Full of Blues

37 years ago today, Jake and Elwood Blues, a.k.a. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, successfully grooved their way to the top of the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart with their debut album.

Briefcase Full of Blues documented a live performance by Belushi, Aykroyd, and their astonishingly awesome band: Matt Murphy and Steve Cropper on guitar, Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass, Paul Shaffer on keyboards, Steve Jordan on drums, Lou Marini and Tom Scott on sax, Alan Rubin on trumpet, and Tom “Bones” Malone on sax, trumpet, and trombone, too. On this particular evening - and it was September 9, 1978, if you were wondering - the Blues Brothers were opening for Steve Martin at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, and given the amount of energy that these guys put into their performances, the audience reacted just as you'd expect: they went wild.

Of course, this was during the first five years of Saturday Night Live, an era which - although it's been highly romanticized over the decades - found the so-called Not Ready for Prime-Time Players enjoying a level of popularity that had the media describing them with surprisingly little hyperbole as “the Beatles of comedy.” Now that the hysteria has died down, however, Briefcase Full of Blues still holds up: it's a whole lot of fun, and it serves as a nice introduction to some classic blues and R&B tunes that aren't as well known now as they once were, even if they should be.

If you don't already own Briefcase Full of Blues, then now's as good a time as any to pick it up. Mind you, you'll have to pay for it, but, hey, what do you want for nothing?

Take it away, Elwood: