Dead ends and missed chances rarely sound as funky and soaring as the soundtrack to Brotherman. A movie proposed and possibly scripted but never ultimately made, Brotherman was the brainchild of a group of Chicago ad men turned would-be producers who never got their project off the ground. But they did get far enough to commission a soundtrack in 1974, tapping the talented (though unwittingly, unfortunately named The Final Solution) for the project. The group didn't have a script but, working with songwriter Carl Wolfolk, they were able to draw on a one-line theme ("The pusher who became a preacher"), a city rich in the sound of Curtis Mayfield, and a few years' worth of blaxploitation soundtracks.
If finished, the soundtrack to Brotherman might have joined the ranks of blaxploitation's best. As is, the recordings are still pretty fascinating. Lead singer Allen Brown has a confident, though not always pitch-perfect, falsetto, and the spare guitar Wolfolk dropped in (to be replaced later when strings and horns were to be added) give songs like "Brotherman" and "I Don't Care" a sound that's more innovative than the finished tracks might have sounded. The movie never happened. The group never got much further than reworking The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" for a Sunkist ad. The tapes sat largely unheard. But the grooves remain in place.