HARD... RAW... DEEP... FUNK: Don Julian - Shorty The Pimp/Savage! (1973)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Don Julian - Shorty The Pimp/Savage! (1973)


















"Shorty the Pimp was to have been a blaxploitation movie around 1973, but was never released due to various problems; supposedly, only one rough cut of the movie now exists, rumored to be in the hands of director Quentin Tarantino. This is the soundtrack album that would have accompanied the project, performed by journeyman Los Angeles soul band Don Julian & the Larks. The soundtrack was canceled along with the film, though most of this made it onto official releases (usually on the Money label). Released or not, this is damn rare stuff, and aside from its appeal for blaxploitation collectors, it's pretty respectable early-'70s soul-funk on its own merits. Although this is heavily derivative of Superfly-eraCurtis Mayfield (there's even a parody called "Super Slick") and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"-era Temptations in its marriage of accomplished harmonies, intricate guitar and horn arrangements, and street-smart lyrics, it's well executed. On "Brother What It Is," they get into some Rahsaan Roland Kirk-like flute and jazzy grooves, while "Just Tryin' to Make It, Pts. 1 & 2" is a slow-burn instrumental reminiscent of Booker & the MG's doing "Summertime"; "I Love You" is a beautiful minor-key soul ballad with a cha cha feel. There are also covers of chart hits by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, the Staple Singers, and the like, since Don Julian & the Larks were to have played a lounge band in the movie itself. Some of these are superfluous, but some are more enjoyable than you'd expect; the version of "The Look of Love," for instance, is smooth and spooky. 

Don Julian - Super Slick



















Savage! Super Soul Soundtrack finds Don Julian abandoning his doo wop roots with the Larks to construct a score for this limited-run cult blaxploitation release. While one could easily assume he was emulating the career moves of several other successful R&B producers (Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, and Willie Hutch had already started to make a name for themselves scoring blaxploitation films), Julianwas taking a more traditional approach to scoring than his colleagues. Savage! most definitely finds its strength in small segues and incidentals, rather than properly arranged songs. However, this should not deter you from listening by any means. There's an art in gaining maximum impact from a minimal amount of instruments and timbres, and Julian does it effortlessly."

allmusic.com

Don Julian - Title Theme: Savage


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