Stax Records, an imprint of Concord Music Group and its Catalog Division, Craft Recordings, is pleased to announce the reissue of one of its most provocative titles: Melvin Van Peebles‘ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Consistently hailed as a landmark, genre-defining album, this 1971 soundtrack — performed by a then-unknown Earth, Wind & Fire with contributions by Van Peebles — will be made available on May 26th for the very first time in high-res and standard digital formats. 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.
Trailblazing writer, director, actor and composer Melvin Van Peebles was financially and creatively responsible for the entire production of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Van Peebles not only directed, scripted, and edited the film, but also wrote the score and directed the marketing campaign. The film, which in the end grossed more than $10 million (the highest ever for an independent film at the time), was acclaimed for its political resonance with the black struggle. In his liner notes, Jeff Weiss notes, “For all the resistance mounting in the streets, no black director had yet made a film that captured the spirit of rebellion, frustration and the refusal to accept injustice. Van Peebles alchemized Malcolm X, Iceberg Slim and Soul on Ice with Huey Newton, Gil-Scott Heron and the French New Wave. Badass cinema was born.” The Black Panthers made the film required viewing. And despite the fact that few theaters would screen the X-rated film, the soundtrack helped to market the film to the masses, through radio waves and word of mouth. The success of the film proved to be a genre-defining moment, giving birth to Blaxploitation, and opening the doors for films like Shaft and Super Fly.
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 ofSweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is part of a wider, year-long initiative, celebrating Stax Records’ 60th anniversary. The cross-label collaboration between Concord Music Group and Rhino Entertainment will highlight the hits, deep cuts and rare tracks from the Memphis label’s heyday of the ’60s and ’70s.
A1. Sweetback Losing His Cherry
A2. Sweetback Getting It Uptight And Preaching It So Hard The Bourgeois Reggin Angels In Heaven Turn Around
A3. Come On Feet
A4. Sweetback’s Theme
B1. Hoppin’ John
B2. Mojo Woman
B3. Sanra Z.
B4. Reggins Hanging On In There As Best They Can
B5. Wont Bleed Me
B6. The Man Tries Running His Usual Game But Sweetback’s Jones Is So Strong He Wastes The Hounds (Yeah! Yeah! And Besides That Will Be Coming Back Takin Names & Collecting Dues)
Preorder Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song on Amazon.