blaxploitation on Film/TV
Blaxploitation had an enormous musical influence on film and television. Many of the police shows of the 1970s and 1980s in America and abroad had instantly
recognisable funk themes and incidental music which, again, have survived better than the visuals.
Notable examples include Tom Scott's 'Starsky & Hutch', Pat Williams' superb jazz-funk crossover 'Streets of San Francisco', 'Charlie's Angels' which Henry
Mancini covered to great success, and the classic US No.1 hit 'Theme from S.W.A.T.' by Rhythm Heritage. 'Kojak', Quincy Jones' 'Ironside', New Generation's
camp classic 'Wonder Woman', Morton Stevens' 'Hawaii Five-O', Oliver Nelson's 'Six Million Dollar Man' theme, 'Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow (Baretta's
Theme)', Jack Jones' easy listening with wah-wah 'Love Boat' all exhibited a blaxploitation influence. Lalo Schifrin employed his experience of scoring 'Enter The
Dragon' to good effect on the theme to the Planet Of The Apes series, called 'Ape Shuffle'.
The police shows in Europe were also quick to adopt the funky, streetwise sound of the blaxploitation genre. Jazz composer Laurie Johnson's 'New Avengers',
'Avengers' and 'Professionals' themes are particularly memorable. 'The Saint', 'Return Of The Saint' and the short-lived BBC series 'Quiller' featured strong funk
influences. Even Brian Bennett of The Shadows released a great funk chase theme called 'Pegasus' in 1974.
While they never contributed directly to the strict blaxploitation genre, two of this century's most versatile and prolific film composers produced genuinely funky
scores. Check out Lalo Schifrin's incredible driving scores for 'Dirty Harry', 'Mission Impossible', 'Rollercoaster', 'Bullitt' and the Bruce Lee classic 'Enter The
Dragon'. The theme from the latter album is a track as well-known and frequently-covered as 'Shaft' and features similar instrumentation.
Henry Mancini, whose albums tend to be inconsistent at best, came up with a good score to the Peter Sellers vehicle 'The Party' in 1968, and ten years later, for the
Dudley Moore film '10'. His compilation albums of themes presented in a funky orchestral style are often interesting. Other composers who have produced funky
soundtracks include Francis Lai, Jerry Van Rooyen, Gert Wilden, Dave Grusin and even Andre Previn, whose 'Rollerball' soundtrack is much sought after. Many of
these themes have also been covered by big bands in authentic funky style. Check out Jack Parnell's great version of 'Enter The Dragon' and Geoff Love's 'Three
Days Of The Condor', 'Space 1999', 'Airport '75', and 'U.F.O.' covers.
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