Various Artists

Blaxploitation, Vol. 2: The Sequel

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Since the first volume of Blaxploitation used most of the obvious picks for this kind of compilation, the compilers of this volume are left free to make plenty of fresh choices. As a result, Blaxploitation, Vol. 2: The Sequel boasts plenty of enticing rarities like "Let's Clean Up the Ghetto" by the Philadelphia All-Stars, a funky message tune voiced by a collection of the stars from the Philadelphia-International label (including Lou Rawls and Teddy Pendergrass). Another fine rarity is the album-length version of the Temptations' classic "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone": At 11-plus minutes, this slickly orchestrated slice of ghetto realism plays out like an urban symphony. Ample room is also given to instrumental excursions with a jazz-funk twist, two of the standout choices being the Herbie Hancock classic "Chameleon" and the more obscure "24 Carat Black Theme" by the Stax Records album group 24 Carat Black. Another notable track in this instrumental vein is Grover Washington's epic reinterpretation of the Temptations' classic "Masterpiece," which effectively pits a wordless chorus and a lush orchestral arrangement against an unrelenting groove laid down by the rhythm section. Like the first volume of this series, Blaxploitation, Vol. 2: The Sequel could use better sequencing: If the vocal and instrumental cuts were alternated with greater frequency, they might pack a stronger punch. This volume also lacks the fun liner notes that graced the first one. These caveats aside, Blaxploitation, Vol. 2: The Sequel remains a fine collection of soul tracks that will find favor with hardcore soul music enthusiasts.

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