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Category:    Home > Reviews > Music > Film Soundtrack > Theme Songs > Soul > R&B > Pop > Multi-Channel Music > Blaxploitation > Thriller > Black Motion Picture Experience/Music For Soulful Lovers: Cecil Holmes Soulful Sounds (1973/Sony/Vocalion Import Hybrid Super Audio CD/SACD/SA-CD)/Shaft's Big Score (1972*)/Shaft In Africa (1973/*both

Black Motion Picture Experience/Music For Soulful Lovers: Cecil Holmes Soulful Sounds (1973/Sony/Vocalion Import Hybrid Super Audio CD/SACD/SA-CD)/Shaft's Big Score (1972*)/Shaft In Africa (1973/*both MGM/Warner Archive Blu-rays)

Picture: B Sound: B+ B B-/B-/B- Extras: C- Main Programs: B-/B-/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Cecil Holmes Import hybrid Super Audio CD is now only available from our friends at Vocalion, will play on all CD players, but you'll need a Super Audio CD player to hear the ultra high definition audio tracks, while both Shaft sequels are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

With a second Samuel L. Jackson Shaft film surprisingly, belatedly on the way, remastered Blaxploitation form the original era has been getting reissued in impressive upgrades and here are three more of them...

We start with an unusual item so interesting, everyone should know about it. Music from Shaft has been issued in all formats and a limited edition CD of two of the films and music from the TV show is actually, probably barely still in print. There are also audiophile vinyl releases and even a Super Audio CD form the first film that is sadly now out of print (the stereo-only release is impressive and has jumped to $75.00 as of this posting, though we expect it to go even higher!) but you also have people wanting to remake the song.

Cecil Holmes was one of those artists who thrived in the 1970s issuing albums covering established hits and the great people at Vocalion Records in the U.K have issued a double feature of two of his albums, including one with mostly remakes of theme songs from the earliest Blaxploitation films.

Black Motion Picture Experience and Music For Soulful Lover (both 1973) is not only part of a cycle of such albums, as common as they were fun at the time, but both happen to have originally been 4-track quadraphonic releases and for the first time since their original release, here they are in that configuration. The tracks for both albums are...

The Black Motion Picture Experience
1: ACROSS 110TH STREET (Johnson; Womack)
2: SLAUGHTER (Preston)
3: BEN (Scharf; Black)
4: ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA (R Strauss) from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey
5: SUPERFLY (Mayfield)
7: SHAFT (Hayes)
9: FREDDIE'S DEAD (Mayfield) from the film Superfly

Music for Soulful Lovers
10: SOULFUL LOVE (Camillo; Bogart)
12: BREAK UP TO MAKE UP (Gamble; Bell; Creed)
14: NEITHER ONE OF US (Weatherly)
15: PILLOW TALK (Robinson; Burton)
17: IF YOU DON'T KNOW ME BY NOW (Gamble; Huff)
18: LOVING YOU HURTS SO BAD (Camillo; Sawyer)
19: CALL ME (COME BACK HOME) (Green; Mitchell; Jackson)
20: STAY WITH ME (Camillo; Sawyer)

Of course, most of those songs are standards and classic by now, but most knew even then how great they were. It reminds us of how great a time this was for music and though these remakes might not always be as good as the originals (sometimes that is not the point) and Holmes may take subtle liberties in his versions, these are very well recorded and worth catching, especially in 4-track Quad. They are a nice group of alternate versions and music fans (including audiophiles) won't be sorry if they go out of their way for them.

A booklet with an essay, pictures and informative text is the only extra.

Now for the two original sequels to the classic Blaxploitation film Shaft (1971). Gordon Parks returned to direct the first sequel, the underrated Shaft's Big Score (1972) which returns to the tough gumshoe detective roots of the books as it also goes for all-out action (especially in the final reel) in the Bullitt/Dirty Harry mode. The result is still the best film ever of the character as a disturbed client has called John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) for help, but he is too late to save the man as he is blown up in his own business office.

This leads to a tangle of gangster and police interests that are all over the place, well thought out by the Ernest Tidyman screenplay, but it is the most energetic of the Shaft films and one 0of the best in all of the Blaxploitation cycle. Yes, there are some down times and a few dated moments, but more of this holds up than you might expect and now restored to its original glory, looks great on Blu-ray here.

John Guillerman (The Towering Inferno, Death On The Nile) took over the helm on Shaft In Africa (1973), an interesting change of pace film where Shaft (Roundtree again) is actually kidnapped and forced to take on a case where a young man who turns out to be royalty has been killed. With shades of Apartheid and a connection with the political 'back to Africa' movement that was going on at the time, it was a credible move and the film has its fans. However, I felt it got a bit muddled at times and some of it I did not buy.

Still, MGM and company were really trying, including getting the legendary Four Tops (now at the Dunhill/ABC Records label, they just left Motown) to sing the song in the opening credits. I enjoy the ambition of both films as MGM was going to make sure the other studios (especially American International and Warner) would not get ahead of them in the genre.

Unfortunately, the third time was not the charm at the box office and the film did not connect with audiences no matter the reason and the series ended, but it is the only series of films from that cycle that made it to a third film, so that says something. MGM was not through with Shaft yet and decided to produce a series of TV movies (ala Columbo) to continue the character and though that was not the hit it should have been, Warner Archive has issued them on DVD. You can read more about them in my review here...


The only extra on both Blu-rays are an Original Theatrical Trailer, though the covers of both discs do an excellent job of reproducing the original poster art.

Now for playback quality. Of course, the Cecil Holmes SA-CD has no video, but it has three sound choices from its standard PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo tracks that will play on any CD player and are not bad, but the real action is on the ultra high definition DSD (Direct Stream Digital) lossless audio tracks, here in an even better 2.0 Stereo and an especially impressive 4.0 Quadraphonic mix that is the most fun, has the best clarity, depth, detail and impact. Since most Blaxploitation films were monophonic in theaters, it is fun, though their soundtracks were usually stereo. Audiophiles will get a kick out of it too.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on both Shaft Blu-rays were shot on 35mm film in real anamorphic Panavision and processed by the great MetroColor labs. Warner Archive has remastered and restored these films so well, they turned out even better than I expected with great color, depth and detail that will shock even the biggest fans and those who know the films best. Most early films in the genre were not in scope, but these were and that makes them stand out.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes on both sound as good as two theatrical monophonic films of the time can, but there were more than a few times I wished they were in at least simple stereo. Still, the remastering impresses.

You can order the Cecil Holmes Vocalion Super Audio CD double feature here....


and to order either of the Shaft sequel Warner Archive Blu-rays, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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