The Final Solution: Brotherman

Jam-packed with irrepressible grooves and laser-sharp harmonies, this 1975 would-be soundtrack deserves a place amongst the classics of mid-'70s funk and soul.

The Final Solution


Subtitle: Original Soundtrack
Contributors: Carl Wolfolk
Label: Numero
US Release Date: 2008-08-12
UK Release Date: 2008-07-28

There’s something irresistibly charming about an unmade movie. Especially if that movie happens to be Brotherman: an abandoned 1975 blaxploitation film that follows the, ahem, blaxploits of an inner city pusher turned preacher. Simultaneously typifying the genre completely even while transcending it, in a parallel plain the movie is probably one of the undisputed classics of ‘70s B-cinema. Sadly, in our own world we can only speculate.

Fortunately, this isn’t necessary when it comes to Brotherman's original soundtrack. The brainchild (soul child?) of Chicago songwriter/guitarist Carl Wolfolk, the album stands up as a verifiably brilliant musical accomplishment. And, while it’ll probably never be as iconic as, say, the theme from Shaft or Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack to Superfly, this is an album of irrepressible grooves and laser-sharp harmonies worthy of a place amongst the era’s classics.

Part of the reason is that the songs here have uniformly well-realized arrangements that utilize the Final Solution’s four male voices to the utmost. “Girl in My Life”, for instance, is a mesmerizing jewel of a song that recalls both the Jackson Five and the best of the Temptations’ later hits. “Brotherman”, presumably the movie’s would-be theme song, is a high-powered funk workout that acts as the perfect complement to the down-tempo seduction of tracks like “We Can Work It Out”. Whether it should be attributed to Wolfolk’s skills as an arranger or to the singers themselves, the Final Solution’s work on this record is as hair-raising and, dare I say, sublime as their name is regrettable.

That said, Wolfolk’s guitar playing is every bit as important to the album’s success as the quartet’s deft vocal interaction. After all, it’s his left-field pseudo-flamenco rhythms that really set the Brotherman soundtrack apart from your usual funk/pop outing. For example, the spellbindingly virtuosic riff on “Never Coming Back Again” is just one of many moments here that serve to re-emphasize the criminality of this album’s being released for the first time this year (that’s 33 years after it was originally supposed to come out). “Gotta Get Through to You” employs some similarly jaw-dropping feats on the fret board. As is the case with many of the other songs, it’s a tune that indicates just how seriously he took the project. The CD version also contains two bonus tracks -- “Theme from Brotherman” and “No Place to Run” -- instrumentals that further showcase the guitarist’s inspired style and effortless touch.

Every once in a while, some forgotten shard of musical history will chance to drift onto the shores of our collective consciousness. Less frequently, it will be something that thrills us into a reinvigorated sense of appreciation for music that we may have begun to take for granted. This is particularly so for those of us who are too young to have experienced the old classics when they first appeared. With Brotherman, this is just the case. While it’s tragic to think what might’ve been in store for Wolfolk and the Final Solution had this album come out when it was supposed to, its recent debut lends it an uncommon vitality. It’s this precious commodity that allows us to enjoy the music for its concrete merits -- to enjoy it as if this were 1975 -- rather than simply acknowledge it for its cultural import. In short, this is truly a rare, rare find.







Zadie Smith's 'Intimations' Essays Pandemic With Erudite Wit and Compassion

Zadie Smith's Intimations is an essay collection of gleaming, wry, and crisp prose that wears its erudition lightly but takes flight on both everyday and lofty matters.


Phil Elverum Sings His Memoir on 'Microphones in 2020'

On his first studio album under the Microphones moniker since 2003, Phil Elverum shows he has been recording the same song since he was a teenager in the mid-1990s. Microphones in 2020 might be his apex as a songwriter.


Washed Out's 'Purple Noon' Supplies Reassurance and Comfort

Washed Out's Purple Noon makes an argument against cynicism simply by existing and sounding as good as it does.


'Eight Gates' Is Jason Molina's Stark, Haunting, Posthumous Artistic Statement

The ten songs on Eight Gates from the late Jason Molina are fascinating, despite – or perhaps because of – their raw, unfinished feel.


Apocalypse '45 Uses Gloriously Restored Footage to Reveal the Ugliest Side of Our Nature

Erik Nelson's gorgeously restored Pacific War color footage in Apocalypse '45 makes a dramatic backdrop for his revealing interviews with veterans who survived the brutality of "a war without mercy".


12 Brilliant Recent Jazz Albums That Shouldn't Be Missed

There is so much wonderful creative music these days that even an apartment-bound critic misses too much of it. Here is jazz from the last 18 months that shouldn't be missed.


Blues Legend Bobby Rush Reinvigorates the Classic "Dust My Broom" (premiere)

Still going strong at 86, blues legend Bobby Rush presents "Dust My Broom" from an upcoming salute to Mississippi blues history, Rawer Than Raw, rendered in his inimitable style.


Folk Rock's the Brevet Give a Glimmer of Hope With "Blue Coast" (premiere)

Dreamy bits of sunshine find their way through the clouds of dreams dashed and lives on the brink of despair on "Blue Coast" from soulful rockers the Brevet.


Michael McArthur's "How to Fall in Love" Isn't a Roadmap (premiere)

In tune with classic 1970s folk, Michael McArthur weaves a spellbinding tale of personal growth and hope for the future with "How to Fall in Love".


Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.


The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.


Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.


Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.


Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.


The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.


Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.


Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.


Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.