Any musical moment from The Blues Brothers is brilliant. James Brown’s gospel gives the word “energetic” new meaning, while Think showcases Aretha Franklin’s formidable vocal skill, and Jailhouse Rock is probably the best final number in any film. But one stands high above the rest as being The Blues Brothers’ best set piece (at least musically, the car chases take the cake for action.) That song is Shake A Tail Feather.
Marking the first moment that the reassembled Blues Brothers band play together, Shake A Tail Feather sees Ray Charles show Jake and Elwood just what action you can get out of an old piano. Outside in the street, an extraordinary crowd of dancers emerge, moved by the music to give in to giddy abandon and just dance. The song is simple yet catchy, the musicianship of both Ray Charles and the backing band superb, but best of all is the dancing. From the tambourine-playing Murphy twisting in his impossibly bright red trousers, to the one male dancer who is the focus of the “do the bird” moment, who is perhaps the happiest man alive, the pure joy of music is on display here. While all the other numbers have some sort of plot-relevance, Shake A Tail Feather gives way to pure, giddy abandon, and celebrates nothing but music itself.