Saturday, 29 December 2018

The Blaxploitation Compilations





THE BEST OF BLAXPLOITATION

  

This is the correct track listing for this excellent two CD set. It is a wonderful compilation showcasing the very best of this down 'n' dirty, socially conscious, aware, gritty urban funk that so characterised the mid/late-seventies. While prog rock, glam, punk and disco are what many people remember from that period, this comparatively underground genre was just as important, just as influential and often criminally underrated.

CD 1

1. Them From Shaft - Isaac Hayes
2. The Ghetto - Donny Hathaway
3. Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) - Grover Washington Jr.
4. Superfly - Curtis Mayfield
5. The Bottle - Gil Scott-Heron
6. Papa Was A Rolling Stone - The Temptations
7. Woman Of The Ghetto - Marlena Shaw
8. Am I Black Enough For You - Billy Paul
9. Death Wish - Herbie Hancock
10. The Boss - James Brown
11. Trouble Man - Marvin Gaye
12. Home Is Where The Hatred Is - Esther Phillips
13. Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City - Bobby "Blue" Bland
14. I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down - Ann Peebles
15. Celestial Blues - Gary Bartz

CD 2

1. If You Want Me To Stay - Sly & The Family Stone
2. All The Way Lover - Millie Jackson
3. I'd Rather Be With You - Bootsy Collins
4. September 13th - Deodato
5. Little Child Running Wild - Curtis Mayfield
6. Be Thankful For What You Got - William DeVaughn
7. Expansions - Lonnie Liston Smith
8. Across 110th Street - Bobby Womack
9. I Got So Much Trouble In My Mind - Sir Joe Quarterman
10. Let's Clean Up The Ghetto - Philadelphia All Stars
11. Hercules - Aaron Neville
12. Sweet Sweetback's Theme - Earth, Wind & Fire
13. Ain't That A Bitch - Johnny "Guitar" Watson
14. Love TKO - Teddy Pendergrass


The funk is of the highest quality throughout - full of shuffling, muscular drums and that trademark funky guitar sound that you recognise instantly as soon as you hear it. It is evocative, urban music that is not dominated by braggadocio or underlying violence but carries often hard-hitting messages of both social and domestic discord and deprivation. Check out Marlena Shaw's marvellously atmospheric Woman Of The GhettoEsther Phillips' brutally cynical Home Is Where The Hatred Is and Bobby Womack's socially honest Across 110th Street for sublime examples.

Other highlights are The Temptations' extended Papa Was A Rolling Stone, with its iconic, lengthy intro; Curtis Mayfield's typical Blaxploitation anthem, SuperflyWilliam DeVaughan's supremely soulful Be Thankful For What You Got and Donny Hathaway's gritty, insistent funk of The Ghetto. Then there is the orchestrated, soundtrack instrumental funk of Death Wish, that is so representative of seventies movie soundtracks. To be honest, I could literally praise every single track. There is not a duff number on this collection. Very, very highly recommended.

BLAXPLOITATION ONE

  

CD 1

1. The Ghetto - Donny Hathaway
2. Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) - Grover Washington Jr.
3. Woman Of The Ghetto - Marlena Shaw
4. Pusherman - Curtis Mayfield
5. Home Is Where The Hatred Is - Esther Phillips
6. Stone To The Bone - James Brown
7. Expansions - Lonnie Liston Smith
8. Also Sprach Zarathustra - Deodato
9. Stratus - Billy Cobham
10. Theme From Shaft - Isaac Hayes
11. He's A Superstar - Roy Ayers
12. Superfly - Curtis Mayfield

CD 2

1. Summer In The City - Quincy Jones
2. For What It's Worth - Sergio Mendes
3. Stepping Stones - Johnny Harris
4. Nubian Lady - Yusef Lateef
5. I'd Rather Be With You - Bootsy Collins
6. Straussmania - Daniel Salinas
7. Children Of The Ghetto - Courtney Pine
8. The Other Side Of Town - Julian Joseph
9. By All Means - Alphonse Mouzon
10. The Look Of Love - Isaac Hayes
11. If You Want Me To Stay - Sly & The Family Stone
12. Why Can't We Live Together - Timmy Thomas


In many ways, this is a compilation not just of "blaxploitation" movie soundtracks (of which there are only a few on here), but a collection representing a complete genre of mid-seventies urban black music. There is the orchestrated soundtrack stuff but there is also soul and funk served up in huge portions throughout. Sometimes you get three instrumental soundtrack grooves in a row, like with ExpansionsAlso Sprach Zarathustra (actually a chart hit) and Stratus, when it may have helped the balance to separate them with some funkers like Superfly or I'd Rather Be With You.

This is a minor point though. Overall, this is a wonderful compilation. The funk is of the highest quality throughout - full of shuffling, muscular drums and that trademark funky guitar sound that you recognise instantly as soon as you hear it. It is evocative, urban music that is not dominated by braggadocio or underlying violence but carries often hard-hitting messages of both social and domestic discord and deprivation. Check out Marlena Shaw's marvellously atmospheric Woman Of The GhettoEsther Phillips' brutally cynical Home Is Where The Hatred Is and Curtis Mayfield's socially honest Pusherman for sublime examples. There is also Curtis Mayfield's typical Blaxploitation anthem, Superfly and Donny Hathaway's gritty, insistent funk of The Ghetto. Great stuff.

Add to that Isaac Hayes' iconic Theme From ShaftTimmy Thomas's minimalist but hard-hitting Why Can't We Live TogetherJames Brown's funky Stone To The Bone and Sly & The Family Stone's gritty If You want Me To Stay and you have some seriously good material. That is not to mention all the other tracks, the quality of which never drops. Highly recommended.

BLAXPLOITATION TWO: THE SEQUEL

  

CD 1

1. Little Child Running Wild - Curtis Mayfield
2. Papa Was A Rolling Stone - The Temptations
3. Trouble Man - Grover Washington Jr.
4. The Boss - James Brown
5. I Got So Much Trouble In My Mind - Sir Joe Quarterman
6. Superstition - Quincy Jones
7. Children's World - Maceo Parker
8. Celestial Blues - Gary Bartz
9. Liberation Conversation - Marlena Shaw
10. Family Affair - Sly & The Family Stone
11. Do Your Thing - Isaac Hayes
12. The Ghetto '74 - Leroy Hutson

CD 2

1. Let's Clean Up The Ghetto - Philadelphia All Stars
2. Masterpiece - The Temptations
3. 24 Carat Black - 24 Carat Black
4. Freddie's Dead - Curtis Mayfield
5. From A Whisper To A Scream - Esther Phillips
6. Use Me - Bill Withers
7. Low Rider - War
8. Got To Give It Up - Marvin Gaye
9. Chameleon - Herbie Hancock
10. Wake Up Everybody - Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes


This is just as good as the first in the series of these excellent compilations. The iconic Blaxploitation numbers largely appeared on the first release, so on here the compliers were able to go a bit left field with some of their selections, such as the funky disco rhythms of War'Low RiderBill Withers' unique brand of folky soul on Use MeMarvin Gaye's dance classic Got To Give It Up and Quincy Jones' instrumental take on Stevie Wonder's Superstition.

We also get two magnificent extended Temptations "psychedelic soul" tracks in Papa Was A Rolling Stone and the underrated MasterpieceHerbie Hancock's lengthy jazz funk workout, Chameleon offers something different too. Some sweet seventies soul, with a social message, appears too in Harold Melvin's evocative Wake Up Everybody, and Sly & The Family Stone's catchy, laid-back funk in Family Affair.

Some serious funk is here in James Brown's The Boss and Curtis Mayfield's excellent Freddie's Dead making it a very impressive compilation. As with all of the series, the quality is outstanding.

BLAXPLOITATION THREE: THE PAYBACK

  

CD 1

1. Ball Of Confusion - The Temptations
2. Ironside - Quincy Jones
3. Trouble Man - Marvin Gaye
4. Move On Up - Curtis Mayfield
5. Joy - Isaac Hayes
6. All The Way Lover - Millie Jackson
7. Public Enemy Number 1 - James Brown
8. Ain't No Sunshine - Grover Washington Jr.
9. Breakout - Johnny Hammond
10. Who Is He (And What Is He To Do ) - Creative Source
11. Be Thankful For What You Got - William DeVaughn
12. Love TKO - Teddy Pendergrass

CD 2

1. One Nation Under A Groove - Funkadelic
2. Back Stabbers - The O'Jays
3. Give Me Your Love - Curtis Mayfield
4. Westchester Lady - Bob James
5. Watermelon Man - Herbie Hancock
6. Melting Pot - Booker T. & The MGs
7. Across 110th Street - Bobby Womack
8. Hot (I Need To Be loved, Loved, Loved) - James Brown
9. Ike's Mood - Isaac Hayes
10. Bad Montana - Maynard Parker
11. It's Your Thing - The Isley Brothers
12. Lady Day & John Coltrane - Gil Scott-Heron
13. The World Is A Ghetto - War


This, the third in this excellent series, is actually a very diverse collection of funk and soul, meandering a bit away from the "blaxploitation" movie soundtrack thing, which is not a bad thing, because we get a really impressive mix of mid-seventies urban black music.

Highlights on here are The Temptations' socially-aware Ball Of ConfusionMarvin Gaye's sublime funk of Trouble ManBobby Womack's atmospheric Across 110th StreetWilliam De Vaughn's soulful Be Thankful For What You Got and James Brown's uber-funky Hot (I Need To Be Loved Loved, Loved), which used the killer riff from David Bowie's Fame.

Some soundtrack-style orchestrated instrumentals are present in Herbie Hancock's Watermelon ManQuincy JonesIronside and Bob JamesWestchester Lady, some sweet Philadelphia soul in The O'JaysBack Stabbers and some funky jazz in Gil Scott-Heron's Lady Day And John Coltrane. We get some lively pop funk in Funkadelic's One Nation Under A Groove and some saucy, sexy fun in Millie Jackson's All The Way Lover. As with all the other albums in this series, I cannot do anything other than recommend this.

BLAXPLOITATION FOUR: HARLEM HUSTLE

   

CD 1

1. The Law Of The Land - The Temptations
2. Am I Black Enough For You? - Billy Paul
3. Death Wish - Herbie Hancock
4. (Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below, We're All Gonna Go - Curtis Mayfield
5. September 13th - Deodato
6. Grandma's Hands - Gil Scott-Heron
7. Who Is He And What Is He To You - Bill Withers
8. Truck Turner - Isaac Hayes
9. Son Of Shaft - Bar-Kays
10. Mister Magic - Grover Washington Jr.
11. Theme From Cleopatra Jones - Joe Simon
12. Flying Machine - War

CD 2

1. Sweet Sweetback's Theme - Earth, Wind & Fire
2. I Want You - Marvin Gaye
3. Theme From Savage - Don Julian
4. For The Love of Money - The O'Jays
5. Strawberry Letter 23 - The Brothers Johnson
6. Natural High - Bloodstone
7. Inside My Love - Minnie Riperton
8. One Gun Salute - Donald Byrd
9. Always There - Ronnie Laws
10. God Made Me Funky - Headhunters
11. Get Up, I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine - James Brown
12. Harlem Shuffle - Bob & Earl
13. Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time) - The Delfonics


This is the last in this wonderful series of compilations which cover "blaxploitation" soundtracks, funk and soul from the mid-late seventies. Here the soundtracks feature in Sweet Sweetback's ThemeTheme From SavageTheme From Cleopatra Jones and Herbie Hancock's atmospheric Death Wish.

The urban "message" funk is there in Billy Paul's magnificent Am I Black Enough For You? and The O'JaysFor The Love Of Money and there is some catchy funk in Bill WithersWho Is He And What Is He To YouThe Brothers Johnson provide some poppy funk in Strawberry Letter 23 and there is some sweet soul in Minnie Riperton's Inside My Love and Bloodstone's Natural High.

The TemptationsThe Law Of The Land is a marvellous piece of driving, catchy soul, Marvin Gaye's I Want You is, well, Marvin Gaye, it speaks for itself and The DelfonicsDidn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time), while sublime, is not quite a "blaxploitation" song. It doesn't really matter, though, because overall the album, like all the others, is a superb collection.

BLAXPLOITATION: TIN BOX SET

  

This is a superb, sixty track compilation of the best of the seventies urban funk genre that went hand in hand with the cinema genre of "blaxploitation". Not all the usual suspects are on here - lots of them, but not all, and there are some comparative rarities too. Importantly, the sound is outstanding - speaker-shakingly bassy. Just check out Curtis Mayfield's Pusherman played through a deep, bass-heavy system. It sounds revelatory.

I won't list all the sixty tracks but I will correct the listing in that CD 1 Track 10 is Cholly (Funk Getting Ready To Roll) by Funkadelic; CD 2 Track 3 is One Nation Under A Groove also by Funkadelic and CD 3 Track 16 is Oh, I by, guess who - Funkadelic. Quite why the original label listing does not show these three Funkadelic tracks in unclear. Anyway, there are twenty tracks on each CD. Sixty in total.

Highlights are the well-known cuts like Superfly, Pusherman and Freddie's Dead by Curtis MayfieldAcross 110th Street by Bobby WomackThe Staple SingersFunky LoveHercules by Aaron NevilleEase Back by The MetersThe Bottle by Gil-Scott-Heron; the heavy, funky pound of Bumpin' Part 1 by Ground Hog; the soulful She's A Woman by Betty Davis and the chart funk of Joe Tex's Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman). There are too many to mention, really, not a duff track in the set. You can dip into it at random and always be guaranteed to enjoy it.

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