Friday night is usually reserved as He-man night at the gym. so even though I already crammed in that 7k run around Crystal Beach I was still eager to get there, ditch the kid at her Kids Club and hightail it to the weights room to get my Hulk on. Something like that anyway. I’m also excited because tonight’s workout had been previously earmarked for another guilty purpose – Blaxploitation (or, Blacksploitation – whatever you prefer). Yes that’s right – this honky cracker digs him some cheesy ass ghetto B-move complete with novelty funk-slash-soul soundtrack and a big heaping serving of kick ass on the side, ma nigga. Dig it. So the first “warm up” part of tonight’s workout was planned out to be the ‘Black Caesar‘ soundtrack by non other than James Brown.
‘Black Caesar’, released theatrically in the UK as ‘Godfather of Harlem’, is a 1973 crime drama film written and directed by Larry Cohen, starring Fred Williamson (Cohen originally wrote this film with Sammy Davis Jr. in mind for the title role, but after the success of ‘Shaft’, the film was retooled for Williamson) and Gloria Hendry; actually, it’s a remake of the 1931 film ‘Little Caesar’. The Harlem film sequences were directed by James Signorelli, later to go on to producing films on Saturday Night Live.
Basically, after Isaac Hayes kicked his career into high gear with the popular and influential score for ‘Shaft‘, and Curtis Mayfield managed the same feat with ‘Superfly‘ (see Part 2 of tonight’s workout), seemingly every major soul star of the early 1970’s ended up doing music for a blaxploitation film, and James Brown was certainly no exception. That film marks James’ (with heavy input from his bandleader Fred Wesley) first experience with writing music for film – 10 pieces in all. The lead-off cut, ‘Down and Out In New York City‘, sets up the picture’s story, while most of the other five vocal cuts reflect the film’s narrative in one way or another (although ‘Make It Good To Yourself‘ seems to be here mainly because of it’s high funk quotient, and on ‘Mama Feelgood‘, Brown appropriately hands the vocal chores over to Lynn Collins). Like most soundtrack albums of the period, ‘Black Caesar‘ sounds rather scattershot, especially when the music is divorced from the film’s narrative, and this isn’t one of Brown’s stellar albums of the 1970’s; however, there is the much-sampled (Trick Daddy and Ice-T for example) ‘The Boss‘, which could just as easily appear on any of James’ “Best of…” compilations (it doesn’t).
Cheesy as it is, it’s awesome. And I’d be lying if it’s didn’t put a little pimp swagger in my step between the weights machines (click HERE); all that was missing was the purple velvet track suit and platform shoes. Let’s just say I was pretty fly doing my flies – DYNO-MITE!!