Sunday, August 21, 2022

Sweetback Sunday: Melvin Van Peebles 90

Heliocentrics/Melvin Van Peebles/Archie Shepp - The Cavern

The little tool I had that converted the FLACs to mp4s broke, so we're back to pix at the top, with a scratch audio player underneath for the sample du jour.

This has to be brief, as I'm now supremely irritated at Nonsense Tech.

I don't usually do filmmakers, but this one dabbled in music so we'll make an exception.

He passed last year and he'd have been 90 today, so celebrate we shall.

The acknowledged father of Blaxploitation, and really a primary avatar of African-American cinema of the last 50 years, movies in general would look a lot different had he never existed.

He first burst onto the scene at the dawn of the 1970s, with a film that still turns people's minds inside out five full decades later.

Part action adventure, part polemic, and all mayhem, this first big film catapulted him to the forefront of the culture almost fully formed.

Other acclaimed films followed. He had a son -- who became a superstar in front of the camera -- named Mario, with whom most are familiar.

And like I was saying, all the while he dabbled in music.

The soundtrack to his first film doubles as the debut of Earth, Wind & Fire, in addition to containing his own sounds.

All of his subsequent movies have songs of his, and he even has a couple of records that have no film tie-in and are just standalone examples of him doing music.

He also intermittently collaborated with other musicians, and today I've plucked the audio from a European satellite TV broadcast to illustrate this.

Here we have quite the combination, with our hero and new nonagenarian getting busy with noted maestros The Heliocentrics, and if that wasn't enough you get tenor titan Archie Shepp commentating on the whole 75 minutes.

The Heliocentrics
Melvin Van Peebles
Archie Shepp 
Jazz à La Villette 2015
Espace Charlie Parker
Grande Halle de la Villette
Paris, France

01 Prologue
02 Big Bang Reincarnation
03 Searching for Signs of Love
04 Blue Mist
05 The Cavern
06 Transformation, Part I
07 Transformation, Part II
08 Telepathic Routine
09 The Dance
10 Trust the Cosmos (Believe In the Universe)
11 Infinite List (Toss the Dice)
12 Epilogue

Total time: 1:15:27

Adrian Owusu - guitar
Shabaka Hutchings - bass clarinet
Ollie Parfitt - keyboards
Jessica Lauren - keyboards
Jake Ferguson - bass
Malcolm Catto - drums
Jack Yglesias - percussion
Tom Hodges - electronics
Archie Shepp - tenor saxophone
Melvin Van Peebles - narrator

192/48k audio extracted from a 2016 HD "Mezzo" satellite TV broadcast
converted to 16/44 CD Audio, volume boosted and tracked by EN, August 2022
385 MB FLAC/direct link

I might do one or two more for August if all goes according to plan.... which it almost never does.

But today is the day when we say thank you and HBD to Melvin Van Peebles, born this day in 1932 and forever, eternally singing that badass song.--J.

8.21.1932 - 9.21.2021


  1. Many thanks,have ? :

    1. I don't, but I might try to get it and do Monnette Sudler, RIP

    2. Guitarra I tried to register, but you have to have a French library card to do it LOL

  2. Wait, what? A live performance of The Last Transmission? Prob'ly my favorite Heliocentrics album. I can't wait to hear this. Thank you! I'd love to see the broadcast if you have it and would care to share.

    1. sure thing yotte!