Back in 1992 filmmaker Robert Mugge decided it was about damn time somebody make a documentary that captured the spirit of the beloved and legendary Alligator Records. Since blues lover Bruce Iglauer founded Alligator in 1971, the Chicago-based label had been championing blues, zydeco and roots rock acts such as Koko Taylor, Clifton Chenier, Lonnie Brooks, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Buddy Guy, Professor Longhair, and the list goes on and on. These days the label is home to the likes of Elvin Bishop, Marcia Ball, JJ Grey & Mofro, Anders Osborne and Tommy Castro among many others. In looking at the now four plus decades long run of Alligator, there is not a single doubt that it has had a pivotal effect on the world’s awareness of American blues and roots music.
Alligator Records had received numerous accolades over the years, including Grammy awards, but it wasn’t until 1992 that somebody decided to try and capture the spirit of the label and its roster of artists on camera. Filmmaker Robert Mugge decided that the best place to do just that was at a stop on the Alligator 20th Anniversary Tour at Philadelphia’s Chestnut Cabaret. Mugge, who had just released his 1991 documentary Deep Blues, decided to film the performance for what would make an explosive concert film. The kind, as Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle put it in his 1993 review of the film, that was “certain to have viewers dancing in the aisles.” Mugge himself described the opportunity to make the film during the 20th Anniversary Tour as the “perfect core nucleus”, and would end up capturing not only the performance in Philly but a handful of interviews with artists and label founder Bruce Iglauer.
The result was Pride And Joy: The Story of Alligator Records. Even with glowing reviews, the film only caught the eyes and ears of a cult audience of blues die-hards and those that had followed the label. That may explain why, up until now, there has never been a release other than the original VHS. Sure, there are plenty of clips floating around the internet, but on April 22nd MVD Entertainment is finally giving the film a proper release.
Glide Magazine is honored to present a sneak peak with a special clip from the film. The clip features Elvin Bishop and Ronnie Baker Brooks performing Elvin’s song “El-Bo”. Check out this scorcher of a blues tune with plenty of soloing from both guitarists:
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