Monday, February 16, 2009

Giving You Something You Can Feel

While flipping between shitty romantic comedies and turrrrrrible music videos that were devoted strictly to "love," I stumbled across this 1976 gem on BET: Sparkle. Starring Irene Cara (you know, of "Flashdance...What A Feeling" and "Fame" er, fame) in the title role, Sparkle is the story of the three Williams sisters (glamorous and bitchy Sister, demure and shy Sparkle and sassy and introspective Dolores) from Harlem who form a singing group, Sister and the Sisters, in 1958 with the encouragement of two neighborhood friends. Naturally, trials and tribulations ensue (racial inequality, drug use, abusive crime lord boyfriends by the name of Satin) and at the film's end, Sparkle is the only sister left standing (Sister ODs on cocaine and Dolores leaves Harlem to escape the ghetto and racial prejudice). She finally makes it and is performing at Carnegie Hall, opening for Brother Ray. The film, which is considered a cult classic (it inspired Dreamgirls and gave us this bomb ass En Vogue cover), could be just another Cinderella story, but, thanks to the genius of Curtis Mayfield, who created the film's amazing music, it's a fantastic slice of early 1960s R&B.

The movie's soundtrack was performed by none other than Aretha Franklin, who sings over the film's original score, replacing the vocals of Sparkle's stars. The gorgeous soundtrack gives us some of Aretha's most shimmering and lovely tunes like the classic "(Giving Him) Something He Can Feel," "Rock With Me," "Look Into Your Heart" and of course, "Sparkle." Only eight tracks deep, this soundtrack doesn't need any filler. It's flawless. If you haven't already heard it, please do. It's a real treat. I can't WAIT for the Whitney Houston backed remake to ruin everything: Jordin Sparks as Sparkle (Aaliyah was the first choice and actually would've been pretty good), Alicia Keys as Sister and Omarion (is this a goof?) as Stix, Sparkle's boyfriend and encouraging manager/mentor. Trife.

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