Saturday 15 December 2007

Trouble Man - the real Mr T

Directed by former actor, Ivan Dixon (last seen in Hogan's Heroes and Car Wash) and released in 1972, Trouble Man was one of a series of hard-edged blaxploitation movies popularised by such hits as Shaft and Superfly. Alas compared to those genre defining examples,Trouble Man was a flop, though it spawned a superior score penned by reigning Motown monarch, Mr Marvin Gaye.

Trouble Man starred Robert Hooks as Mr. T, an LA-based pool shark, private dick, and all-purpose Mr Fixit. Despite this promising premise, contemporary reviews for the movie were negative in fact Vincent Canby from the New York Times described Trouble Man as "a horrible movie." The same cannot be said for Marvin Gaye's soulful score.

In a similar vein to his innovative What's Goin' On released the previous year, Trouble Man is full of great moments such as the sublime title track featuring Gaye's gliding ethereal vocals and magnificently moody arrangement. There's some memorable tenor, alto and baritone sax from Trevor Lawrence while Marvin contributes some excellent 'moog, ivory tickling and sweetening.' Overlooked perhaps in favour of Curtis Mayfield's Superfly and Isaac Hayes' Shaft, Trouble Man is actually a more complete and enjoyable experience. Well that's my opinion anyway. I'll leave it to you to decide.

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