There are many different schools of thought regarding the so-called "blaxploitation" films of the seventies. A definite message was sent to Hollywood that there is a creative force of black writers, directors and actors who will not be ignored AND there is a huge audience that will devour these action films about pimps, drugs, murder and life on the city streets. Many believe that these films simply perpetuate stereotypes and set back the strides made during the civil rights movement of the 60's. One thing that can be agreed upon is the great music from these films. James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, Roy Ayers and many more musical giants offered their talents to create scores that in many cases were more memorable than the movies themselves. Here are just a few instrumental tracks that helped paint the picture in 3 of these action films of the seventies.
First up is the Godfather's ultra groovy Transmorgrapfication from 1973's Slaughter's Big Rip Off. Fred Wesley's trombone is featured along with a loping bass line that drives the groove. At a mere 2 minutes, the fade out comes far too soon. I could listen to this jam all night long.
James Brown: Transmorgrapfication
Arguably the greatest of all blaxploitation soundtracks was Curtis Mayfield's Superfly. Released in 1972, the Superfly soundtrack stands on it's own as a no holds barred testament of life on the city streets. Here is the instrumental version of Eddie You Should Know Better, a bonus track taken from the 25th Anniversary Edition. This smooth, atmospheric groove is classic Curtis.
Curtis Mayfield: Eddie You Should Know Better
Finally a track from the film that started it all, Melvin Van Peebles' Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song from 1971. A pre-glitter headband wearing Earth, Wind & Fire provides this electric piano driven jam that was written by Van Peebles himself. Once those hand claps come in, it's all over.
Earth, Wind & Fire: Sweetback's Theme