Rock Docs: Pride and Joy: The Story of Alligator Records (2016) - Reviewed

Rock Docs: Pride and Joy: The Story of Alligator Records
New to Blu-ray and on VOD
Like a lot of things, the blues is a style of music I have not been able to give a lot of attention to in my travels even though every time I am exposed to it, I am mesmerized.  The blues is something I have always wanted to dive headfirst into when the opportunity presented itself.  I would consider Pride and Joy to be a good way to at least dip your toes in the water.

As the title suggests, Pride and Joy is the story of the iconic Chicago blues label, Alligator Records.  Pride and Joy tells us the story of the label interluded with performances from the artists who performed on the Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Tour in 1992 (specifically the March 12th date at Philadelphia's Chestnut Cabaret).

Alligator Records is another reinforcement to my love of independent record labels and you will see what I mean if you take the time to enjoy Pride and Joy.  There is a steady feeling of humbleness that threads through Pride and Joy as Bruce Iglauer, the labels founder, takes us around his small office and warehouse.  You can feel Bruce’s passion as he tells his story.  Alligator records is what Bruce refers to as a “True Independent Label” being that they are not owned by any larger conglomerate.  This is a man who truly got into this for the music and his absolute love for it.  He puts it out because he loves it, not because it will sell well and line his pockets for a little effort as possible.

The live material is absolutely furious on this documentary with highlights from Katie Webster and Elvin Bishop.  All of these musicians make it look so easy! My only real criticism on the film is I would have loved to see a lot more interview material with Bruce and the rest of his staff.  The ratio of live material to documentary footage is about 75:25.  Five minutes into this documentary I was already interested and at the end, I felt a bit unfulfilled on actual material on “The Story of Alligator Records”.  Now I want to be clear, I am just referring to the documentary footage.  What is on the film is fantastic, but I just wanted to know more about the label.  Give me more man!  But even with that small criticism, Pride and Joy is a fantastic view and jam session for anyone with an open mind and ear.

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- Scott W. Lambert