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Classic Album Review: Five On The Black Hand Side Soundtrack | MGM Soul Cinema Series

The music from this All In The Family reversal are better than the movie itself.

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This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


Who’s the cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about? Shaft. Damn right. But there’s plenty more where he came from.

Back in the swinging ’60s and ’70s, there were more blaxploitation movie heroes than you could shake your booty at — Superfly, Slaughter, Foxy Brown, Coffy, Friday Foster, Truck Turner, Sweet Sweetback, hell, even Blacula. And like John Shaft, when they went strutting down 125th Street in Harlem in their platform boots and ostrich-feather hat, it was usually to the funky backbeat of a personalized theme song by Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Womack or James Brown.

Good luck finding most of those old flicks at your local video chain. But thanks to the Soul Cinema Series, you can get down to the original grooves. MGM has dug through the vaults and reissued the soundtracks to a slew of African-American movie classics, with every wah-wah guitar lick, soul-sister singer, conga-drum break and flute solo superbly intact. Here’s the score on the scores. Can you dig it?

Five On The Black Hand Side

The Year: 1973.

The Plot: All In The Family from the other side — a domineering middle-class barber must rethink his values when his docile wife joins their children in rebelling against his old ways.

The Music: A tunefully soulful slate of tunes by veteran arranger H.B. Barnum, who merges jazzy instrumentals with snappy R&B licks and earthy vocal tracks.

The Best Line: “Backstabbing, pushing and grabbing, can only keep the brothers back,” from the title song.

The Funkiest Track: Playing Numbers, thanks to some superbad burbling bass and sassy horns.

The Love Theme: Gideon and Morn, one of a trio of tinkly, lounge-piano cuts at the disc’s centre.

The Last Word: A soundtrack that’s better than the movie.