When you think of the great producers at Atlantic Records, the first names that come to mind are Amet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler. These are the guys who get the publicity. But another in the group of four Atlantic top staff (including Ahmet's brother Neshui) is Arif Mardin and he was different from the rest in two ways: First, and foremost, he was an arranger and composer, as well as a producer; Second he was more low-keyed and less ego-centric than the rest. In 2006 he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and decided to record his third solo album - but with original music, some composed in the 1970s - featuring his "friends". Mardin had talented friends: Bette Midler, Norah Jones, Dr. John, Chaka Kahn (it was Mardin who devised the hip-hop "Chaka Kahn, Chaka Kahn" riff on the 1984 platinum hit "I Feel For You") and Carly Simon. He almost completed the album before his death at age 74 in June 2006. His son, Joe, vowed to finish the album, and did.
It was Joe who decided to document the making of the album - and expand it with interviews with his dad and many of the people he worked with. The result was this wonderful and heartfelt 104-minute 2010 documentary, now making it's DVD debut - with 24 minutes of "outtakes". In addition to performances of many of the songs on the CD by the artists mentioned above, we hear from Sir George Martin, Quincy Jones, Willie Nelson, George Wein, Aretha Franklin and Mardin's widow. We also see that Mardin had a "classical side" and composed a classical piece for an orchestra in his native Turkey.
Parts of the film are narrated by Joe and you can feel the love he had for his father in his narration. The breadth of artists that helped Mardin will 15 Grammy Awards is exposed here as well. I was very familiar with the "hits" but - until I watched this film - I wasn't aware of how many "little" but "significant" touches Mardin put into his productions. And to know how many hits he produced, you only have to look at the music credits at the end, which scroll across the screen for over four minutes!
The "bonus" material includes a "Electronic Press Kit" (about 5 minutes) and another 24 minutes of deleted scenes, each of which adds to the Mardin story.
I was also impressed in the video quality of the DVD. The images are some of the sharpest I've seen on a non-Blu-ray disc.
I don't know where this film played between 2010 and now but this is certainly a must-have DVD for any pop music fan.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.