One good turn of Blacksploitation definitely deserves another, this time the ‘Car Wash‘ album featuring the lesser-known funk band Rose Royce.
‘Car Wash‘ is a soundtrack double album on the MCA label released in September of 1976. In essence, it’s the film score to the 1976 hit urban-themed comedy of the same name that featured Richard Pryor and George Carlin .
I remember watching it as a kid but, honestly, all I remember is the afro:
C’mon, that’s fucking awesome!
Then or now.
Anyway, this would also ultimately be Rose Royce’s debut album (click HERE) as although they had already recorded most of a non-soundtrack album prior to ‘Car Wash‘, their producer and Svengali Norman Whitfield insisted that they put that aside when he got the opportunity to write the score for this film. The result was a killer crossover success that made the group’s name and proved there was life after Motown for Whitfield.
It also produced some serious hit singles: the title track was a clever tune that blended a throbbing disco beat, hypnotic funk riffs from the rhythm section, and an ornate string arrangement to become a number one hit, and ‘I Wanna Get Next to You‘ married ethereal strings to a mid-tempo soul beat to create a classic ballad in the mold of Whitfield’s work with the Temptations. The remainder of the album divides its time between funky songs and orchestral-tinged instrumental workouts.
In the song arena, standouts include ‘I’m Going Down‘, a torching, dramatically arranged ballad that features an all-stops-out vocal performance from Gwen Dickey, and ‘Daddy Rich‘, a witty portrait of a religious con man that is built on an infectious combination of staccato horns and a relentlessly churning rhythm guitar hook. The masterpiece in the instrumental arena is ‘Sunrise‘, a hypnotic 10-minute epic whose effective tension-and-release arrangement adds and subtracts layers of instrumentation over a pulsating beat to create a thoroughly hypnotic effect.
Two albums’ worth of Rose Royce may be a little too much for the casual listener, but there is no denying that ‘Car Wash‘ is both stylishly crafted and intensely funky You might even consider it to be required listening for anyone interested in Rose Royce and a solid choice for funk and disco fans alike.