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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Review: Soul Men - Original Soundtrack

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Soul Men
2008, STAX Records

Soul Men (the movie) will be released in theaters on November 7, 2008. It is the story of a fictional classic soul outfit called The Real Deal. Samuel L. Jackson (playing Louis Hinds) and Bernie Mac (Floyd Henderson) play the two backup vocalists to John Legend’s Marcus Hooks character. After the group disbands, Jackson & Mac don’t speak for 20 years, until the death of Hooks. At that point they are called upon to play a tribute show at The Apollo. Hinds and Henderson have 5 days of cross-country travel to bury the hatchet (or each other) before the show. Unfortunately this was one of Bernie Mac’s last projects before his untimely death earlier this year.

The soundtrack is made of classic soul and R&B music. From contributions by Isaac Hayes (Never Can Say Goodbye) and longtime STAX recording artist Eddie Floyd (I’ve Never Found A Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)) to updates by Anthony Hamilton (Soul Music) and Me'Shell Ndegéocello (Water), Soul Men is chock full of the sort of R&B that ruled the radio in the 1960’s. The most entertaining numbers here are the ones sung by Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac. Both are surprisingly passable singers (whether that’s them or studio effects who can tell?), and their songs are entertaining. Boogie Ain’t Nuttin’ (But Getting’ Down) and Do Your Thing would both have been potential hits 30 or 40 years ago. Each song mixes the right blend of reverence and camp to be successful both as tribute and as original creation. Jackson and Mac also pitch in on I’m Your Puppet, with John Legend on lead vocals. I’m Your Puppet would fit nicely into the original STAX catalog.

Soul Men is true to the genre of music it’s built against. It would have been easy to lampoon classic R&B and soul in the same cartoonish sense as The Blues Brothers, but the creators of Soul Men decided to go for more nuance. The comedy on screen in the movie (Can’t comment either way, haven’t seen it) is backed up by a musical background of reverently performed classic sounds. This is a disc that fans of the movie will love, and it’s the sort of disc you could give to a parent/friend who loves classic 60’s R&B, even if they’d never see the movie. A class recording!

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about the movie Soul Men at You can purchase a copy of the Soul Men soundtrack at Be sure to check out some of the classic recordings of Eddie Floyd and Isaac Hayes as well. It’ll do you good.

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