27 July, 2010@5:11 pm
In the 1970’s there were some phenomenal blaxploitation soundtracks, but the best among them were done by none other than Isaac Hayes. If one was aiming to make a dark and grimy gangster film now, and didn’t turn to El Michel’s Affair you’d be missing out one of the best instrumental groups alive.
You probably already know the story. Members of the band are a part of every great funk band alive right now from The Budos Band, to Sharon Jones’ Daptones and the Jay-Z sampled Menahan Street Band. They have the co-sign, the talent and the history to pull off a quality EP like this tribute to one of the greatest.
Starting off with the theme from Shaft, they infuse the song with a bit of afro-tinged rhythm and funk, amplifying the flickering guitar that was the basis to the original. In a rare move for El Michels Affair, they make the song sound more upbeat.
Next up on the album is “Walk On By”, a slowed down, stretched out, long and winding trip. This is a long version that has appeared on a few other compilations, but is a great addition to the album along with a short version that appears at the end of the album. Another track that has appeared elsewhere is “Hung Up On My Baby” which was the last darkly ominous track on 2005’s “Sounding Out the City”. Its more reminiscent of The Geto Boys than Isaac Hayes, but that’s a good thing.
“Red Rooster” is this album’s pimp strut song, bursting horns, an understated guitar line and some straight dead on drums make this a driving with the top down classic. The album closes with “Bumpy’s Lament”, as they slow the funk back down.
Back in the day Isaac worked with some of the best musicians alive. The members of El Michels Affair have the same talent and work ethic and luckily we’re getting amazing music from them just like we got from Isaac Hayes and his fellow Stax label mates forty years ago.
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