Various Artists: Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Album Review | Pitchfork

Various Artists: Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Album Review | Pitchfork

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Assembling the documentary and the soundtrack, Questlove had plenty of outstanding materials to work with: hours and hours of performances by gospel teams like Clara Walker & the Gospel Redeemers, blues acts like B.B. King, jazz instrumentalists like Max Roach, rock-oriented bands just like the Chambers Brothers, pop artists just like the fifth Dimension, and R&B singers like David Ruffin. There’s additionally plenty of Latin jazz, with Puerto Rican and Cuban performers like Ray Barretto and Mongo Santamaria. Each the documentary and its new soundtrack argue for the sweeping range of Black artistic expression within the ’60s, and each benefit from these very totally different stylistic approaches: If you’d like the chic optimism of the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ “Oh Blissful Day” (that includes an unimaginable lead vocal from Shirley Miller), then it’s a must to take the righteous outrage of Nina Simone’s “Backlash Blues,” too.

Arriving on the finish of a decade that noticed nice strides in civil rights in addition to ugly resistance to that progress, the pageant confirmed the numerous methods pop music may confront political and social realities. That is music full of optimism and pleasure, but additionally anger and urgency. Most of those artists seize all of these feelings without delay, particularly Simone. Questlove makes use of her set because the documentary’s climax, and it’s not exhausting to see why: She distills so lots of the movie’s concepts into her three songs, particularly “To Be Younger, Gifted & Black” and “Are You Prepared.” The latter, which closes the movie and the soundtrack, is a pointy recitation of a poem by the Final Poets’ David Nelson, with Simone virtually needling the viewers: “Are you prepared? Are you actually prepared?” Her efficiency acknowledges the struggles that await them within the new decade, but additionally emphasizes the facility of their shared heritage and group to beat something America may throw at them. “Are you able to smash issues and burn buildings?” she asks, barely a 12 months after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

King’s dying hangs over the proceedings, though he’s solely talked about a couple of occasions. The Rev. Jesse Jackson introduces “Valuable Lord, Take My Hand” as a memorial to the slain chief, and it turns into a showcase for Mavis Staples and Mahalia Jackson. Their unrehearsed efficiency is among the most interesting moments within the documentary, though the lack of visuals—the closeups of their faces, the ecstatic high quality of Staples’ jumps—robs the soundtrack model of only a little bit of its energy. It’s a passing of a torch that Staples would carry into the Nineteen Seventies, but it surely’s additionally an excellent impromptu church service, every singer pushing the opposite to new heights and taking the viewers together with them.

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