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February 2004
DVD Reviews : Only The Strong Survive: A Celebration Of Soul DVD

By Tonisha Johnson

DVD Reviews: Only The Strong Survive: A Celebration Of Soul DVD

A walk down memory lane with a path headed straight for the future. Once rivaling music artists become life long friends and share their greatest and weakest moments with the world in this soulful documentary.

Only The Strong Survive: A Celebration Of Soul DVD

Director: Chris Hegedus, DA Pennebaker
Producers: Roger Friedman, Frazer Pennebaker
Cast: Isaac Hayes, Sam Moore, Ann Peebles, Wilson Pickett, The Chi-Lites, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas and Mary Wilson.
Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 3, 2004 DVD
Runtime: 96 minutes

Reflecting on the past; a musical documentary of the worlds best, put together to celebrate the soulful legends of the 1960s and 1970s. 

Hosted by Rufus Thomas and Jaye Davis from their historic radio show in Memphis, Tennessee; the two tell tales of long ago that shape who they are now. Both laugh and reminisce about the good old days. How artists then knew how to sing and “work” a song, each adding jokes and sarcasm along the way. 

Life wasn’t always so great for these artists. Hard times have fallen amongst them. Sam Moore reminisced about his days on Seventh Avenue in New York. Detailing how his life went downhill when his career diminished. He explained how he once ran the streets and how he sold drugs to earn money. “I started working these streets selling drugs all up and down here. Sold the same as Belushi, heroin and cocaine, this was my domain.” – Sam Moore

While Mary Wilson speaks of fighting for her rights to sing the Supreme Songs and channeling her energy into writing two successful books, which will soon be combined into one sensational book explaining her trials and tribulations in the industry, as a Supreme and life all-together. “I’m currently attending NYU. I’m taking some writing courses so that I can write my own books instead of hiring a writer,”- Mary Wilson

The film focused around the strength of these artists. And how this strength has kept them going and believing in themselves and their music. From the history of the infamous Stax Records to the rivalry Royal Records artists; the magic and the rich memories are bought to life in this fantastic documentary and creating a long lasting effect on the viewer. 

From the road trips of yesterday, the long standing ovations that made the Chi-Lites quickly retreat backstage for safety, singing in small smoked-filled rooms to those big black shades adorned by Isaac Hayes, the audience is in for a treat. These so called “forgotten” artists of yesteryear will be forgotten no more. This documentary is filled with light memories of sorrow and heavy performances. Large crowds still gather to hear oldies but goodies followed by great acts of yesterday that still maintain their greatness today, proving that only the strong survive...truly. 

"Either you is, or you ain't. That's the crux of the whole thing." - Rufus Thomas, 1917-2001.



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