Picks and Pans Review: Only the Strong Survive

updated 05/19/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/19/2003 01:00AM

Documentary

With some songs, all it takes is a few notes or a chorus and—wham!—you're right back to that junior high dance or rust-bucket Dodge Dart where you first listened to the tune. Music is a powerful memory trigger, and bygone times come flooding back watching Only the Strong Survive, a stirring documentary that travels to Memphis, Chicago, Manhattan and elsewhere to catch up with a dozen topflight rhythm-and-blues artists of the '50s through '70s who are mostly still out there thrilling audiences. Those profiled include Wilson Pickett, Isaac Hayes, Mary Wilson of the Supremes and Sam Moore of Sam and Dave. Some have sailed through life while others have struggled (Moore lost years to drugs), but all convey the joy they still take in—and their dedication to—making music. For anyone hearing these folks for the first time: Expect a treat. (PG-13)

BOTTOM LINE: A soulful pleasure

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