Soul Man [A&M Original Soundtrack]

Original Soundtrack

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Soul Man [A&M Original Soundtrack] Review

by Joe Viglione

Why the world needed another rendition of the song "Soul Man" after 1979's Top 15 version by the Blues Brothers desecrated sacred territory by combining authenticity with parody, well -- that could have been the plot to the film which featured Leslie Nielsen and James Earl Jones. Seven years after the Akroyd/Belushi pairing, Bangles/Tory Amos producer Davitt Sigerson creates a thin sounding bed for original vocalist Sam Moore and his replacement for David Prater -- Lou Reed -- to sing over. That weak production is disrespectful to both artists. The album shifts gears dramatically with techno pop from Brenda Russell, Ricky, Vesta Williams, Nu Shooz with production by Jeff Lorber, Models, and actress Rae Dawn Chong, who sings one of the better tracks, "Black Girls." Saxophone player Tom Scott arranges and produces the final tune, "Sweet Sarah," and it is up to his fine standards while not sounding as out of place as the title song. The best moment on this disc is a remake of Joan Armatrading's "Love and Affection" by Sly Stone and the Motels' Martha Davis. It is a treat that Siggerson pulls off with a bit more finesse -- he's not trying to re-create a period piece like "Soul Man" -- and he builds an atmosphere for these two vocalists to do their thing. It works. Sly Stone's "Eed-Ah-Bo-Static Automatic" is also a highlight, and perhaps they should have worked more with the demented genius that Stone is, having him provide more of his creativity on the rest of the album. Ricky's "Bang Bang Bang (Who's on the Phone)" and Brenda Russell's "Totally Academic" are passable fare and pleasant '80s pop. Ricky's production by La Bionda is right out of the pages of 1983's hit by Yes, "Owner of a Lonely Heart," while Brenda Russell pre-dates Sheryl Crow's first hit by eight years, and sounds just like her. It's an inconsistent soundtrack with some historic moments, and is valuable because of the presence of Sam & Lou, Sly & Martha, and Tom Scott. Vesta Williams' track, co-produced by Billy Valentine, gets an honorable mention.

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