The funky soundtrack to last year’s Rudy Ray Moore biopic arrives on a new 180g LP from Mondo.
Lend an ear to SPINEMA: a column exploring all movie music, music related to movies, and movies related to music. Be they film scores on vinyl, documentaries on legendary musicians, or albums of original songs by horror directors, all shall be reviewed here. Batten down your headphones, because shit’s about to sound cinematic.
DOLEMITE IS MY NAME — Music From the Netflix Film LP. Music by Scott Bomar. Featuring performances by Craig Robinson, Eddie Murphy and DaVine Joy Randolph. Pressed on 180 Gram Purple Galaxy vinyl. Also available on 180 Gram Black vinyl. Ships worldwide April 30th 2020. $25
Dolemite is My Name was one of 2019’s best films, an energetic and ultimately joyous exploration of the ceaseless drive that led legendary comedian Rudy Ray Moore to smash boundaries of race, limited resources, censorship, and good taste to create (or at the very least, popularize) a brand of outrageous x-rated comedy and even make himself a movie star, staking his claim as an outsider artist in the already outside world of blaxploitation cinema.
The film was a long-in-coming passion project for Eddie Murphy, who stars as Moore, doing his best work in years and reminding us why both comedians are so hilarious and vital. Murphy tapped Craig Brewer (Black Snake Moan) to direct, who in turn pulled in his oft collaborator, funk/soul/jazz musician Scott Bomar, to create the musical score.
Mondo’s LP features a vintage styled aesthetic that would fit right in with actual records from the 70s, as is fitting to the film. Newer touches include the obi (spinecard) and two color options. In addition to 70s-appropriate black vinyl, the record is also available in a beautiful marbly violet option denoted “Purple Galaxy” which is the version I’m reviewing.
Here’s a pictorial exploration of the entire package.
Jacket Art and Obi (Spinecard)
Record and Innersleeve:
The actual look “Purple Galaxy” coloration is a bit difficult to make out from the lighting in my photographs so here are some views to try to emphasize its appearance.
The soundtrack album features Bomar’s score as well as a couple of new cast recordings of classic RRM/Dolemite tracks.
The score’s music is of course reminiscent of the blaxploitation films of the 70s, incorporating a fusion of funk, soul, and jazz precisely as one might very well expect.
Some of my favorite instrumental tracks include “Put Your Weight On It” and “I’m Gonna Kill Dolemite”. While they sound completely different, they’re similar in that they use step-up intervals to build up a body of sound. The prior launches into a funky jam with big blaring brass, while the latter maintains an energetic action tempo that sounds like it would be at home in a Bruce Lee film.
Some other standouts include “Clean Up”, a short but very bouncy and melodic Gert Wilden-esque piece that mixes up organs and a game horn section, “Liquor Store Wisemen” which centers on a groovy bassline that builds to a rollicking rhythm, and “Sell It”, a similarly funky feel-good track. The album’s closer, “Arrived”, sticks the landing by taking the listener on a three minute journey from stillness to raucous mirth.
While several tracks bring the funk, there’s also a few more melancholy pieces which highlight the themes of struggle and rejection that often threatened to undermine Moore’s career. “Parking Lot”, “Dunbar Hotel”, “We Done”, “Leaving” slow down the tempo and remind us of the hard times that Moore overcame. Bringing up the middle are even-tempo grooves like “Recording Comedy” and “New House Record / Walkin’” — fun to listen to, but not particularly memorable.
Besides the score, several songs are featured. Bluesman Bobby Rush’s hit I Ain’t Studdin’ You is the album’s sole import, the rest are new tracks which feature the film’s cast.
As in the film, Craig Robinson steps up to the microphone for the classic and super-catchy Dolemite theme song, as well as the boppin’ “Like I Should”, which I understand to be a new track.
The album’s biggest outlier by far is “Ballad of a Boy and Girl”, Eddie Murphy and Da’vine Joy Randolph’s recreation of the comedic innuendo-filled novelty country song by Moore and Jeanie Marie (featured on the comedy album Eat Out More Often) and sung in hillbillyesque accents. It’s enjoyably hilarious but perhaps the least suited to casual listening for music’s sake— whether it’s the best or worst track on the album may be a matter of perspective.
Full track list:
1. Dolemite performed by Craig Robinson
2. Like I Should performed by Craig Robinson
3. Parking Lot
4. Liquor Store Wisemen
5. Recording Comedy
6. Sell It
7. I Ain’t Studdin’ You performed by Bobby Rush
8. Ballad Of A Boy And Girl performed by Eddie Murphy and Da’Vine Joy Randolph
9. The Dunbar Hotel
10. Clean Up featuring Fred Wesley
1. Feed The Honkies featuring Fred Wesley
2. Scene 3
3. Put Your Weight On It
4. I’m Gonna Kill Dolemite!
5. We Done
6. Phone Call
7. Promote The Shit
8. New House Record / Walkin’
All package photography was taken by the reviewer.
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