Quincy Jones went on a film-scoring tear in the ’60s and ’70s, scoring over 30 movies for an international cast of directors. It’s not quite Ennio Morricone-level prolificness, but it’s an impressive number nonetheless. Jones’ excellent soundtracking dazzled up films such as The Lost Man, The Italian Job, The Hot Rock, In The Heat Of The Night, and They Call Me Mr. Tibbs! One of the most exciting from this fecund era is $ (aka Dollar$).
A 1971 heist movie starring Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn and directed by Richard Brooks, $ received mostly positive reviews, but over the ensuing five decades, it’s faded into obscurity. The score, however, deserves regular rotation among Quincy fans and appreciators of dynamic soul and funk in whatever context. Q relied on major talents such as Little Richard, Roberta Flack, violinist Doug Kershaw, drummer Paul Humphrey, guitarists David T. Walker and Eric Gale, keyboardists Billy Preston and Paul Beaver, and the Don Elliott Voices (among others) to help him realize his groovy vision.
The hit single here is “Money Is,” on which Little Richard sings his pioneering ass off with Jones-penned lyrics about the allure of cash on this roiling jazz-rock burner. (If anyone knows about lucre, it’s Mr. Jones.) Shifting gears, “Snow Creatures” is an eerie track full of surprising dynamic shifts, tantalizing textures, and sample-worthy passages. In fact, hip-hop greats such as Gang Starr, J Dilla, Madlib, and Common, to name only a handful, have partaken of its sonic splendors. On a whole other tip, “Redeye Runnin’ Train” is a pulse-pounding suspense-builder with urgent movement signified by Kershaw’s furious fiddle sawing.
Little Richard resurfaces on “Do It – To It” and tears it up again on this libido-liberating, quasi-throwback rocker, sounding almost as fierce as he did in his prime. “Candy Man” cuts deep as another suspenseful chiller that would segue well into the more understated pieces on Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack. Jones really nails it in this mode. More variety comes with “Passin’ The Buck,” a funky blues number with liquid-gold guitar calligraphy by (I’m going to guess) David T. Walker.
Sampled by Mobb Deep, “Kitty With The Bent Frame” approaches Goblin territory for scary atmospheres while using a wide range of timbres to get its blood-curdling vibe across. “Brooks’ 50¢ Tour (Main Title Collage)” essentially does what the United States Of America did on the final track of their 1968 self-titled album: it reprises a highlight reel of elements that remind you of how dope the album to which you just listened is.
Rhino reissued $ on mint green vinyl (of course) in 2022, but early editions shouldn’t set you too far back. -Buckley Mayfield
Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.