After seeing Michael Mann’s brilliant Public Enemies I was astounded by how amazing some of the music was including perhaps the best song of the bunch, “Ten Million Slaves” by Otis Taylor. If this song isn’t at least nominated for an Academy Award then I’ll lose all faith in the Oscar/Music collaboration that actually gained my trust when they unexpectedly gave the award to Three Six Mafia for, “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” which it most certainly & I should now I’ve been pimping myself for years to no avail.
Otis Taylor was born in 1948 in Chicago, Illinois, but actually grew up in Denver, Colorado. Began playing the banjo as a child along with guitar and harmonica. Toured Europe & the U.S. as a Blues Musician up until 1977 when he inexplicably decided to become an antique dealer. Taylor returned to music in 1995, and as of 2008, has released nine blues albums on several record labels. His music tends to focus on the hard realities of life, especially relating to the black community. Some common themes in his music are murder, racism, poverty, and the need for redemption. To date, Taylor has eleven Blues Music Awards nominations while White African was named ‘Best Artist Debut’.
Just a warning if you have not seen the movie, Public Enemies, there are some spoilers following. Ok, disclaimer out of the way, Public Enemies was Michael Mann at his finest, a la Heat. What I noticed in this movie was the trait that he often uses, that I didn’t put together until I saw it in this film, which is that of women being the ruin of most of the lead character’s & the savior of others. In Heat, Neil McCauley has Eddy, Miami Vice Sonny has Isabella & in Public Enemies Dillinger has Billie Frichette. It shows that considerably flawed characters have the ability to love, but that they will usually want to make that one last score that puts them over the top so they can go away with their love. The fact that they are all driven by some form of greed that is mistaken for wanting to care for someone. In their minds they may truly feel this way but inevitably they are 99% of the time killed when escape was at their fingertips.
Public Enemies is more than just a shoot ’em up movie. It is a movie that shows a Man with charisma, but extremely flawed and greedy & how that greed and arrogance leads to his ultimate demise. I suggest watching it & especially the camera angels and use of HD which is condemned by many as to nouveau while they hold on to past traditions of film. Film has a wonderful quality about it, but HD is the wave of the future and the quality it shows enhances the movie experience.
Otis Taylor – Ten Million Slaves