While I was reading Jason Bailey’s ambitious Fun City Cinema: New York City and the Movies That Made It, my mind couldn’t help but music-supervise the experience. New York’s status as the most famed city in film is unimpeachable (No. 1, baby!), but that distinction wasn’t earned just visually. Whether we’re talking original scores (for example, Bernard Herrmann’s for Taxi Driver or Herbie Hancock’s for Death Wish) or perfectly evocative song licensing (such as Ray Charles’s “Come Rain or Come Shine” at the beginning of The King of Comedy or Johnny Ace’s “Pledging My Love” at the end of Bad Lieutenant), Fun City—or Fear City—has inspired some of the greatest soundtracking of all time.
By the way, is there a more impressively timeless soundtrack subgenre than that of the blaxploitation pictures of the 1970s? The N.Y.C. classics—Isaac Hayes’s Shaft, Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly, Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street,” and James Brown’s Black Caesar—are all represented on this playlist.
Opening with KPM Library’s “Our Feature Presentation” tune, which the raincoat crowd might’ve heard when slipping into a Times Square grind house for a double or triple bill of sleaze, this compilation was otherwise selected solely from flicks referenced in Jason Bailey’s book. Heyyy—I’m listenin’ here! I’m listenin’ here!
Spike Carter is a writer and filmmaker. Read his review of Jason Bailey’s Fun City Cinema in this week’s issue here