Entertainment Weekly - 9/29/95, p.63
"...provides a refreshing reminder that there are still plenty of great songs from soul's heyday that haven't become familiar as background music from Tarantino films." - Rating: A
Q - 10/96, p.1624 Stars
- Excellent - "It's 1972....Dramatic, sophisticated soul and R&B from the period..."
Vibe - 12/95-1/96, p.148
"...the collection is part Motown, part Stax; part light, part darkness....grouped here, [these songs] have all the passion of a biblical drama."
Melody Maker - 6/1/96, p.46
"...the best primer I've heard of the best music that has ever existed..."
Albert and Allen Hughes' DEAD PRESIDENTS takes place in the early 1970s, the nation's supposed time of recovery from the social upheaval of the '60s. At the time, musicians--particularly soul artists--were edgier, more likely to create music that addressed previously ignored societal ills; even the love songs of the era were daring in their structure and sound. The music found on the soundtrack of the gritty film falls directly into the period spanning 1967 to 1974, when R&B was experiencing this radical phase prior to the arrival of disco.
The artists the Hughes brothers chose include many trailblazers who took black music to the "next level." Sly & The Family Stone, who check in with "If You Want Me To Stay," were forefathers of funk who fused the positive messages of the love generation with an amalgam of soul, gospel and jazz. Elsewhere, Curtis Mayfield's grim depiction of ghetto life ("If There's A Hell Below") is balanced by the O'Jays' message of hope and brotherhood ("Love Train").
Love songs also went from innocent platitudes to a more aggressive style, soaked in desperation and desire. Some artists went the way of lengthy orations (Isaac Hayes' covers of "Walk On By" and "The Look Of Love"), while others coupled smooth funk with lush orchestration (Barry White's "Never, Never Gonna Give You Up") to deliver messages that reeked of champagne and silk sheets.