The Blackbyrds

At the Movies

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This single-CD reissue pairs two blaxploitation soundtracks by different artists: 1975's Cornbread, Earl and Me, composed by Donald Byrd and performed by the Blackbyrds, and 1973's The Dynamite Brothers, composed and performed by Charles Earland. Cornbread, Earl and Me, which featured the movie debut of Larry Fishburne, is serviceable, routine soul-jazz background film music, varying between funk-jazz-rock vamps (such as the Sly Stone-styled instrumental workout "The One-Eye Two-Step"), snazzy jazzy bits for action scenes, and sentimental orchestrated interludes. There are also occasional vocal numbers in a pedestrian mid-'70s soul-jazz-rock mode, such as "The Cornbread Theme." It's an incidental addition to the Blackbyrds catalog. The Dynamite Brothers was one of the most obscure blaxploitation movies. Although there were some soul-jazz elements in the score, it also reflected the move among many musicians from that background into funk, fusion, and rock territory in the early- to mid-'70s, particularly in the synthesizers by Patrick Gleeson. It often sounds like the kind of music you might have heard from a band warming up a crowd for a Miles Davis concert of the time. It's suitably slightly spaced soul-funk-fusion, atmospheric but not too heavy on remarkable compositional ideas. Gleeson does come up with some eerie wavering, high-pitched effects and squiggles on his ARP 2600 and Pro Soloist synths, and Earland gets down with some real earthy, extended bluesy soloing on "Shanty Blues." Earland switches from organ to soprano sax on the most avant-garde and dissonant outing, the eight-minute "Snake."

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:11
2 3:20
3 1:25
4 3:01
5 1:59
6 1:53
7 3:22
8 3:50
9 1:06
10 2:51
11 1:36
12 2:20
13 2:03
14 1:48
15 3:28
16 5:05
17 5:23
18 2:51
19 4:11
20 3:34
21 2:29
22 8:39
23 3:42
24 4:38
blue highlight denotes track pick