I am not usually one to shill for Vh1 programming on this blog, unless it’s for the music Tom Sizemore hears in his head on Celebrity Rehab, but the channel’s Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America, which airs Saturday night at 9:30pm ET/PT, should not be missed.
Terrence Howard narrates the documentary, Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson scores it, and countless icons spanning the show’s 40-year run, including Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Sly Stone, Smokey Robinson and Snoop Dogg, appear as talking heads.
But the real star of Hippest Trip is the show itself: Archival clips from its early beginnings as a local program in Chicago in 1970 and on through its move—both geographical and cultural—to Los Angeles, where its social impact reached far beyond hair styles and hot-minute singles.
Soul Train’s producer and host, Don Cornelius, is still the man with the best baritone this side of James Earl Jones (and his snazzy outfits leave Darth Jones in the dust). The guests, from Ike & Tina to Public Enemy, are amazing—not to mention some of the first musicians to appear live on TV in a time when lip-synching was considered de rigueur. And the dancers, future stars Rosie Perez and Jody Watley among them, are insanely fun to watch. If you can toot your caboose half as well this crew on the infamous Soul Train Line, while looking one-tenth as fashion bananas, you are a champion.
Or, you could just make love to a red rose, rock the bejesus out of a pair of yellow poly pants and a brown silk arm sling, and be Al Green:
Seriously, tune in tomorrow night. If you have ever loved R&B, soul, hip hop, music, television, or joy, it is worth your time.
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