Various Artists

MGM Soul Cinema, Vol. 1

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The first of two volumes, MGM Soul Cinema, Vol. 1 compiles songs exclusively from 1970s Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films that coincide with a series of soundtracks finally debuting on compact disc. Labeled indecorously as "blaxploitation flicks," these movies were often low-budget action films with thinly veiled messages revolving around violent ghetto themes. Driving the genre was distinctive music that featured top black artists developing proud soulful rhythms, adrenaline-pumping percussion, sexy horn work, and inspired, self-affirming lyrics. Highlights of Vol. 1 include Isaac Hayes' hot buttered vocals on the emotional "Give It to Me," Lyn Collins' funk attitude during "Mama Feel Good," and James Brown's calculated down-low groove for "The Boss." Disappointing, however, is the lack thereafter of choice cuts on a disc less than 38 minutes long, and mediocre album artwork including back cover text that's laborious to read. Although this material is somewhat diluted over two albums, curious listeners may enjoy either volume, but those passionate about the genre should explore the individually released soundtracks.

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