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Cadillac Records

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Cadillac Records


Full of errors but never mind that this film is great!”


Chronologically barmy it has Muddy Waters coming to England in 1967 for the first time!


Muddy Waters was here in England in April 1958 with Leonard Chess and here is a picture of him in Manchester in 1964

The film doesn’t mention Bo Diddley as well as any of the massive collection of artists who recorded at the Chess Studios at 2120 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago.


It concentrates on Leonard Chess, no mention of Phil or Marshal and Leonard is turned from a short bald fat man into a tall thin brown eyed handsome man played by Adrien Brody The film was written and directed by one of Hollywood’s best looking directors: Darnell Martin


She concentrates on a few central themes, Muddy Waters relationship with Leonard Chess who rewards his artists mostly by buying them a Cadillac and pays them occasionally. It shows the wayward career of Little Walter, it gives a hint of the powerful ‘presence of Howlin’ Wolf’s vocal capacity by actor Eamonn Walker and the ‘tore up’ early life of Etta James played by Beyoncé Knowles, who does a fine job with Etta’s songs, but cannot really be compared to Etta’s amazing voice and singing style. Chuck berry makes an appearance and gives a hint of how he was different in style from the others featured in the film which appears to be intermittently narrated by a Willie Dixon characterisation. The Stones make a short appearance making their trip to the ‘Mecca’ of 2120 telling Muddy that his record ‘Rollin’ Stone’ inspired them and that they named their group after it. We learn nothing of the record that started of Rock and Roll: Rocket 88 by Ike Turner and Jackie Brenston Chess1458 1951 made by Sam Phillips and sent to Chess for distribution – it became a hit and a good money spinner for the Chess brothers, but the film only shows a Leonard starting the company with Muddys ‘I Cant Be Satisfied’. 1958, Chess was almost into its second decade by that time.


In England in 63’ and 64’ there was a huge fascination with the Blues and lots of touring Blues artists appeared in many English cities including Manchester’s Free trade Hall and on Manchester’s Granada Television. Several of the clubs in the city where by this time predominantly featuring Blues and the most Bluesy of them all was The Twisted Wheel. Chess made its mark at this club, with lots of great Chess Blues artists being released on the PYE International R&B Label just before Chess emerged in their own right.


Chess Soul There is no mention of it.

However apart from all these anomalies the film is well worth seeing, it has many great performances


Blue Note Club


For the real Chess Story see ‘Spinning Blues Into Gold’ by Nadine Cohodas and: The Story Of Chess Records by John Collis.


Website: Soulbot

The Edwin Starr Story

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