Marvin Gaye’s greatest work, I think. He’s playing all sorts of instruments on it, too.
Trouble Man was one of those mostly forgettable black private eye movies popular in the seventies, like Superfly and Shaft, both of which yielded big hits on the AM radio charts. Trouble Man‘s music really was a step above the others, though. The words to Shaft have become perennial fodder for parodies, easy pickins because of their comic book toughness; Superfly by Curtis Mayfield, along with Freddie’s Dead, had way more grit. But Trouble Man’s orchestral musical framework immediately shouts: serious business, and when Marvin Gaye opens up with, “I come up hard, babe”, it sounds heavier, more like real life.
Trouble Man was directed by an interesting fellow named Ivan Dixon. If you’re of a certain age, you might remember him instantly as “Kinch” on Hogan’s Heroes. He’s one of those fellows you see from time to time in Hollywood — he worked. His IMDB for acting has fifty credits, the usual fare for someone that’s gotten past just standing around, but not a leading man by any stretch. He was even once a stunt double for Sidney Poitier. He had an almost equal amount of directing entries, some movies, mostly TV, lots of familiar titles like Magnum, PI, The Waltons Room 222, and The Rockford Files. I remember one of his roles, in Car Wash, fondly. The movie wasn’t good, exactly; but it encapsulated the era pretty well. I imagine archaeologists will someday find a video of Car Wash, and attempt to discover the engineering secrets behind Franklyn Ajaye’s righteous fro.