In the ongoing celebration of Stax Records’ 60th anniversary, they’re reissuing the soundtrack to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, a 1971 film by Melvin Van Peebles. As the press release states, the music is by a “then-unknown Earth, Wind & Fire with contributions by Van Peebles.”
The vinyl edition features audio remastered from the original analog tapes and cut on the original Stax lathe at Memphis’ Ardent studios, then pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Memphis Record Pressing. The remastered LP also includes new liner notes from author, journalist and music critic Jeff Weiss, as well as from Melvin’s son Mario Van Peebles, director of New Jack City (1991) and 2003’s Baadasssss!, which chronicles the making of his father’s landmark film.
The soundtrack features a combination of hymn-based vocalization and jazz rhythms, capturing the funky, gritty and soulful spirit of the time, and foreshadowing the use of sampling that would occur in hip hop music, some 20 years later. Weiss adds, “The soundtrack operates like a surrealist Mobius strip comprised of call-and-response chants against the man…It’s as avant-garde as the film’s kinetic mix of psychedelic jump cuts and dream-like sequences. The music becomes a character itself, unseen but forcefully heard.”
The reissue is coming out on May 26.