Various Artists

MGM Soul Cinema, Vol. 2

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One of the finest elements of the blaxploitation genre was its music, which allowed gifted African-American performers like Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes to underscore the action with music that was both funky and socially aware. Several interesting cuts from this era are captured on MGM Soul Cinema, Vol. 2, a compilation that collects a series of cuts from Beyond's blaxploitation soundtrack reissue series. Fans of this genre will be familiar with cuts like "Across 110th Street" and "Down and Out in New York City," both of which are staples of blaxploitation music compilations, but MGM Soul Cinema, Vol. 2 remains of interest to genre connoisseurs because it unearths plenty of rarities. For instance, "Friday Foster" is a gently funky title song from a Pam Grier vehicle driven by lovely female harmony vocals and analog synthesizers. Another rare gem is "Black Enough," a quietly moving song about racial unity with stirring vocals from Melba Moore. MGM Soul Cinema, Vol. 2 also uncovers some lesser-known delights from familiar performers: Isaac Hayes' "Main Title From Truck Turner" is a relentlessly grooving theme song that feels like a sequel to "Theme From Shaft," and James Brown's "People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul" is a hard-grooving delight worthy of his best early-'70s funk epics. In the end, MGM Soul Cinema, Vol. 2 isn't as definitive a collection as Pimps, Players, and Private Eyes, but it is well worth a spin for the blaxploitation soundtrack aficionado.

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