Friday, 15 April 2011

Rare Black Gold

It's taken me quite some time to track down a copy of Trouble Man, a 70's blaxploitation thriller with the distinction of having a rather splendid Marvin Gaye soundtrack. The film itself is pretty standard post Shaft shenanigans with playa/'tec Mr T finding himself embroiled in a dispute between two gangs while the police constantly nip at his heels. Bolstered by a surprisingly convoluted plot and plenty of period laughs (mostly at the expense of the period script/ropey acting) this was an entertaining 99 mins that's certainly above average for the genre.

It's a strange experience watching a film over a decade after discovering it's soundtrack, Marvin's sophisticated, spartan instrumental album has long been a favourite of mine and it's quite amazing how little it's used, in comparison to, say, Isaac's efforts for the film Shaft, sadly the music is low in the overall mix and unless I hallucinated it the main character appeared to sing over Marvin's elegantly poised voice during the opening track - utter madness. Anyways the album is golden and it's Marvin at the creative peak of his career so even if the film isn't to your taste I recommend the album unreservedly.
The Up Tight! soundtrack is provided by the peerless Booker T and the Mgs and it's a tight, bluesy selection of grooves with the bonus of their only vocal album track "Johnny, I love You". While the album itself isn't quite as good as Hip Hug Her or Soul Limbo the melancholia required for the soundtrack means Booker & chums mostly avoid the cheese they're fond of and it all culminates with the classic Time is Tight.

While Trouble Man was difficult to source, the film Up Tight! was almost impssoble and the version I finally found was a ropey vhsrip so it was a real ugly watch, bit of a shame, anyways this urban thriller by Jules Dassin is a considerably less action orientated film than T and is quite unlike the typical idea of blaxploitation movies; some alchy called Tank feels the squeeze between his radical gang buddies and the police in a web of machinations & recriminations and social politics. Despite it's low budget there's weight here and a few decent performances too. Dassin creates a bubbling tension towards the end of this theatrical effort and it's not bad, maybe a little preachy, but a reasonable, realistic-ish look at survival, identity and integrity for Black American in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr King and it certainly deserves a wider audience.


  1. Alright mate,

    Trouble Man brings back fond memories of 3rd and 4th year at uni....actually Marvin seemed to hog the stereo quite a lot during that time. Great album.....much sampled too.

  2. yeah recent events have inspired me to go back to my roots with classic soul choking up my BB