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Various Artists - "Boycott" Soundtrack Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 February 2001

Music from the HBO Film Boycott

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
format: CD
label: EMI Gospel
release year: 2001
performance: 8.5
sound 8
reviewed by: Bryan Dailey
HBO is on a hot streak with their original series and films. The critically acclaimed shows The Sopranos and Sex in The City have given people a new reason to watch HBO. HBO’s original films have taken the TV movie-of-the-week to a new level with the ability to touch on controversial subjects in a raw and uncensored way. In honor of Black History month, HBO is airing the film Boycott, a depiction of the civil rights movement. This begins with the story of Rosa Park’s courageous act of refusing to give up her seat in the "whites only" section of a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama in December of 1955. It was one of the most turbulent and pivotal times in the short history of the United States of America and the film brings this story again into the limelight.
The companion soundtrack to Boycott is an eclectic mix of gospel, soul, funk and R&B that captures the range of feelings and emotions that were exploding during this era. From musical legends such as Nat King Cole, Stevie Wonder and Dizzy Gilliespe to relatively new artists like Lamar Campbell and Brent Jones, this is the kind of album that could stand in its own even if the film didn’t exist. A huge staff of talented people, including four producers, put together the soundtrack to this film, using newly-recorded tracks and vintage material that goes back as far as 1930’s "Walkin’ My Baby Back Home."

As you might expect, the sound quality of The Boycott soundtrack spans a wide range. Some of the older songs, including the Nat King Cole tune "Walkin’ my Baby Back Home" and Dizzy Gillespies’s live performance of "Swing Low Sweet Cadillac," lack the high fidelity of the newer songs, but serve to give historical perspective to the album.

The version of the 1973 song "Jesus Children of America," written and performed by Stevie Wonder and featuring Bebe Winans and Marvin L. Winans, that appears on Boycott was originally released on Winans’ solo album Love & Freedom in 2000. Despite being a relatively new recording, this updated version has the spirit and vibe of 1973 with the signature Stevie Wonder funk guitar and keyboard sound.

I have never been a fan of Bob Dylan. I must therefore eat colossal amounts crow, because my favorite track on the Boycott album, "Gotta Serve Somebody," was penned by the folk superstar. This colossal jam is so downright funky and soulful that it could get even John Ashcroft movin’ and groovin’ out on the dance floor. Performed by Beverly Crawford and the Potter’s House Mass Choir, this song is literally a wall of sound that washes over you. The groove is absolutely infectious.

The high-energy modern hip-hop song "Revolution," performed by Kirk Franklin sounds almost out of place after the Dizzy Gillepsie song "Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac" with its heavy dance beat, complete with "whoo whoo" chorus. It’s a 180-degree turn in sound to go from a ‘50s live recording to this dance track produced by the 22-year-old mega-producer Rodney Jerkins. Jerkins has produced and/or written songs for artists such as Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Toni Braxton, Jennifer Lopez and Will Smith. Although "Revolution" probably won’t be a smash hit, the production is huge and the sound will explode out of your speakers with smooth dynamics and a soulful groove.

Show your friends and family how hip you are and get a copy of the Boycott soundtrack. To find so many soulful songs compiled on one CD is a rare thing in the modern world of one-hit wonders. There are a few songs that drag a little and didn’t hit the spot for me, but these are so few and far between that I have to highly recommend this CD. The film will run throughout March and, if it’s as good as the soundtrack, you should check your local cable listings to find out when it’s playing.

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