Blaxploitation cinema has always been one of my favourite genres - low-budget, gritty, realistic and radical, but with a distinctive flair which has extended its influence beyond its 1970s heyday.
I came to Blaxploitation cinema, however, through Blaxploitation music. As a teenager I bought Isaac Hayes' soundtrack to Shaft and was captivated by the funky, soulful feel of his Oscar-winning compositions. Tight bass grooves underpin horns and strings and together create a sound that is instantly of the 70s and a world away from pop music either of its time or ours. But Hayes is not the beginning and end of the genre, and this box-set offers a superb range.
Here are 45 tracks, over three separately-cased discs, from many artists you'll recognise - Curtis Mayfield (Superfly, Move on Up), Gil Scott-Heron (The Bottle), Ike & Tina Turner, James Brown. However, there are also plenty you might not know - Maceo Parker, the Last Poets and Sir Joe Quarterman, for example. In fact, the one thing this set doesn't have is any Isaac Hayes.
Somehow, though, this doesn't really matter. What this collection does give you is a library of groove-filled tracks you probably don't know but which will get your body moving. I heartily recommend it.
PS If you're also considering the 100% Blaxploitation - 100 Funky Tracks (5CD) box-set, it might be worth knowing that as I write this you can get both sets for under 11 pounds, and that's a bargain in anyone's book. If you only want one, however, see my review of the other set for guidance.