Authentic soul music and superstar musical performances are the consistent theme and backdrop for the side-splitting comedy, Soul Men, starring entertainment icons Bernie Mac, who passed away on August 9, and award-winning actor Samuel L. Jackson. The film also includes a cameo appearance by Isaac Hayes who died the day after Mac in unrelated circumstances. Soul Men, directed by Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Undercover Brother, Roll, Bounce) will be released November 7, 2008 nationwide (Dimension Films/MGM) and the soundtrack will be available November 4th on legendary label Stax Records.
In his last movie performance, popular comedian Mac, Jackson and Grammy winner John Legend (who makes a special appearance in the movie) play members of a fictitious group, The Real Deal; when Marcus Hooks (Legend) leaves to pursue a successful solo career, Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac) and Louis Hinds (Jackson) attempt to continue with dismal results. The death of Marcus sparks a reunion between the two former soul singers who haven't spoken in twenty years; Soul Men (which also stars Sean Hayes, Jennifer Coolidge and Sharon Leal, who plays Jackson's daughter) follows the hilarious escapades of the two former partners as they finally come back together for Marcus' funeral at New York's Apollo Theater.
Music naturally plays an integral part of Soul Men, particularly poignant with the appearance of Stax legend Isaac Hayes whose passing on August 10 was mourned worldwide. Scene for scene, Mac - whose popularity soared in recent years through his weekly Fox TV series, the Emmy-winning Bernie Mac Show - is at his comedic best playing opposite Jackson in this non-stop tale of rivalry and competition.
More than providing the musical narrative for the upcoming movie, the soundtrack for Soul Men stands alone as a solid album that faithfully recreates the legendary sound and flavor associated with Stax Records at the height of its popularity in the late ‘60s through the mid-‘70s.
With a slate of top contemporary artists including Grammy winner John Legend, neo-soul stars Anthony Hamilton, Leela James and Ryan Shaw, cult favorites Sharon Jones with her band The Dap Kings (known for their work with Amy Winehouse among others) and Me'Shell NdegeOcello among others, the Soul Men soundtrack focuses on some of the greatest music classics from the Stax catalog.
The 1968 No. 1 UK pop hit, "Private Number" (originally recorded by William Bell & Judy Clay) is given a solid makeover by soul singer/songwriter and musician Chris Pierce and James accompanied by Memphis-based band The Bo-Keys (whose line-up includes famed Stax musicians Willie Hall and Charlie Pitts); Rufus Thomas' 1967 Sir Mack Rice-penned "Memphis Train" given a truly funky workout by Shaw with The Bo-Keys; "Comfort Me," a 1966 Carla Thomas chestnut is performed with soulful emotion both in the movie and on the soundtrack by actress/singer Sharon Leal; while the film's Mac, Jackson and Leal offer a hilarious take on Isaac Hayes' memorable 1972 smash "Do Your Thing" as the album's closer The CD also features stellar original Stax recordings by Hayes ("Never Can Say Goodbye," a 1971 Top 5 R&B and Top 30 pop hit) and longtime soul man Eddie Floyd (of "Knock On Wood" fame) via the 1968 hit "I've Never Found A Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)."
Other key cuts on the soundtrack include an infectious cover of the James & Bobby Purify 1966 hypnotic classic, "I'm Your Puppet" by superstar John Legend with Mac and Jackson with production by Raymond Jones (whose credits include Patti LaBelle, Chic and Stephanie Mills); "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)," a new take on a rare tune originally cut by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition, reinterpreted by the inimitable Sharon Jones and produced by Dap Kings' member Bosco Mann; and rousing opening cut of Frank Fitzpatrick's "Soul Music," performed by Anthony Hamilton and The Bo-Keys, produced by group member Scott Bomar and recorded at Willie Mitchell's Royal Studios in Memphis.
A slew of top notch musicians are heard throughout Soul Men: Ben Cauley of The Bar-Kays, L.A. session fixture bassist Freddie Washington, keyboardist extraordinaire Patrice Rushen and drummer James Gadson are among the participating players on the project which also includes original material from Me'shell NdegeOcello (the mellow "Water," on which she also plays bass).
With hysterically funny scenes, including a car chase in a vehicle suitably known as ‘Muthaship', a salacious encounter between the two men and groupie mother/daughter duo, and a cameo appearance by soul star/comedienne Millie Jackson, Soul Men recreates a golden era in R&B and popular music while providing audiences with a enjoyable experience thanks to Jackson and both Mac and Hayes, whose contributions to the world of entertainment remain immeasurable.