Thursday, June 25, 2009

Book Excerpt of the Day

Another Motown soundtrack from ’73 was Edwin Starr’s Hell Up in Harlem, the sequel to Black Caesar. James Brown, who scored Caesar, was originally asked to do Harlem as well, but the film’s director Larry Cohen rejected his efforts in favor of the Starr vehicle, featuring songs written by Freddie Perren and Fonce Mizell (who along with Berry Gordy and Deke Richards formed the Corporation, the production team behind the Jackson 5). Harlem’s outstanding tracks include the rousing, electrically charged theme song and “Easin’ In,” which boasts an often-sampled, finger-snapping intro. The song could have been a hit, but Motown neglected to promote the score — a mere contract fulfiller for Starr.

After Cohen rejected Brown’s Harlem, the “godfather of soul” released the music separately on a double album, The Payback, which is generally regarded as one of his best efforts; some fans insist it’s better than his actual soundtracks.

– from Chapter 1: Crime Jazz and Felonious Funk of Kristopher Spencer’s Film and Television Scores, 1950-1979

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