Isaac Hayes – Shaft (1971)

“When the latest sequel/reboot of Shaft hit screens this past June, one essential element was missing: the music of Isaac Hayes.  While the late composer-artist’s seminal ‘Theme from Shaft’ was referenced in Christopher Lennertz’s score, Hayes’ commanding voice was nowhere to be found – some said to the detriment of the film.  While the new Shaft underperformed in theatres, it had at least one happy byproduct as Craft Recordings revisited the classic original 1971 film soundtrack with a new deluxe edition.  This 2-CD iteration fused Hayes’ original album of the score (a mainstay on both CD and vinyl) with the original MGM soundtrack as actually heard in the film, previously released only as part of a 2008 limited-edition box set from the defunct Film Score Monthly label.  Shaft: Deluxe Edition offers the best of both worlds, and is a compelling addition to any soundtrack or soul library. The original Stax double-album of Shaft, released in August 1971, became Isaac Hayes’ most successful LP as well as a Grammy Award winner, catapulting the artist-composer into a new realm of stardom.  A chart-topper on the Billboard 200 and the R&B and Jazz charts, the score album to the landmark of African-American cinema blended lush yet hard-driving funk with smooth, laconic instrumental tracks, and subtle jazz flavorings.  Hayes’ unerring sense of melody shone on evocative, atmospheric cues like the melancholy, organ-drenched ‘Bumpy’s Lament,’ the mellow, vibes-infused ‘Ellie’s Love Theme,’ breezy ‘Café Regio’s’ (with its shades of Wes Montgomery and George Benson) and tough, brassy ‘No Name Bar,’ while the soft ‘Early Sunday Morning’ evinced his clear debt as a composer to Burt Bacharach. … Then, of course, there was the oft-imitated but never duplicated title track, as thrilling a film theme as any ever written and recorded. The Bar-Kays and The Movement accompanied Hayes in his familiar environs of Stax’s Memphis studio.  The album’s horns and strings arranged by Johnny Allen (alumnus of Hayes’ sophomore album, Hot Buttered Soul) complemented the slinky, sexy contours of Hayes’ melodies while adding requisite widescreen flair.  Just three songs out of fifteen on the 2-LP set have vocals – the title theme, ‘Soulsville,’ and the top 40 hit ‘Do Your Thing,’ but Shaft remains the pinnacle of Hayes’ considerable achievement and one soundtrack that more than stands on its own merits.  … Musicians included L.A. veterans like Bud Shank on woodwinds, Lincoln Mayorga on piano, and percussionists Emil Richards and Victor Feldman, alongside Memphis players like Charles Pitts, Jr. and Michael Toles on guitar, Lester Snell on electric piano, James Alexander on bass, and Willie Hall on drums – all of whom would repeat their duties for the subsequent Stax album. …”
Review: Isaac Hayes, “Shaft: Deluxe Edition”
W – Shaft (Isaac Hayes album)
Discogs (Video)
W – Blaxploitation
YouTube: Isaac Hayes Shaft in Studio (Live)
YouTube: Shaft (Deluxe Edition) Isaac Hayes   1 / 16

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