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Black Belt Jones
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Black Belt Jones: the music

By The Man

The movie is structured as a series of interconnected set pieces designed to showcase Kelly's martial arts skills. The action-packed opening scene, where Kelly takes on a team of Chinese hoodlums using just his fists, feet and the cars in the lot, is overlaid with one of blaxploitation's most recognisable and often-sampled themes. Dennis Coffey, a session guitarist who had worked with artists like Marvin Gaye and produced a number of fusion albums for the Sussex label, was employed to write the title theme and a love theme for the film. Luchi De Jesus, a movie composer with credits including Detriot 9000, wrote much of the incidental music. For the record, no soundtrack album was ever issued for Black Belt Jones despite what is stated during the end credits of some cuts of the film. The title theme was issued on a rare Warner Brothers single; the equally funky Love Theme, heard during the beach scenes in the film, appears on the flip side.

The instrumentation used by Coffey sets this title theme apart from mainstream film music of the time. Deliberately steering away from his favoured guitar, he uses multi-layered male vocals to carry the melody over a killer bassline. Fatback 16s on the hi-hats and a string section lend further dynamics to the mix, while tension is created through punchy stabs. It's an instantly recognisable track and great for the dancefloor, as several recent hip-hop singles that borrow from the original track have proved.

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