Thursday, March 02, 2006:

Short Eyes and normal ones

Curtis Mayfield -- Do Do Wap Is Strong in Here
Curtis Mayfield -- Freddy's Dead
Today I saw Short Eyes for the first time, though I'd bought the soundtrack on LP at Aemoba Records in December. I bought the soundtrack mostly because it was by Curtis Mayfield, I hadn't heard of it, and it was cheap ($2). The soundtrack has a couple of stinkers on it, but I like this one a lot. The lyrics are a bit crude, in keeping with the film, which is about a group of prisoners and their reaction to a new inmate at the prison: a convicted child molestor.

The film paints a sordid picture of prison life, with the inmates spending most of their free time on drug abuse, pointless arguments, pointless fights, attempted seduction, and attempted rape. They spend the rest of their time reading or playing cards. Given that Miguel Piñero wrote the play while in a writer's workshop for inmates in Sing Sing, I'm willing to bet it's an accurate picture.

There's exactly one light scene in the film, the one where a prisoner tells Pappy (played by Curtis Mayfield) that he can probably sing better than the man on the radio (Curtis Mayfield). So Pappy sings along (read: lip synchs fairly convincingly) and the prisoners join in with background harmonies and handclaps.

The film has an O. Henry ending that, unless I missed something very important, makes no sense. It doesn't seem to fit with the dialogue in a longish scene in the middle. I guess it would be a spoiler to say it's like a certain classic western (<rot13>: Gur Bk-Obj Vapvqrag</rot13>).

While I don't think the soundtrack is as good as do the slightly manic reviewers at amazon.com, it does have some good tracks on it--this one and "A Heavy Dude." "Short Eyes" and "Back Against the Wall" are slower and less fun/funky than I'd hoped for, but they're not bad songs either.

I still haven't seen Superfly, though here's "Freddy's Dead." I guess that's a spoiler. Unless he's like that Christmas-sweatered one, in which case it's only temporary.

... Is that a gear-change at 2:15? Curtis?

The Impressions -- Keep on Pushing
And here's a bonus Curtis track, 'cause my prose isn't exactly on top of its game lately.
[Short Eyes soundtrack]
[Superfly soundtrack]
[The Very Best of The Impressions]

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Comments:
That live re-issue Rhino put out is amazing. "Mighty, Mighty Spade & Whitey" is worth the price of admission alone....

I'll have to look into that; I don't yet have that one.

As far as I'm concerned, Curtis Mayfield is a God.
The fella had a heavenly voice. Great songwriter too.

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