Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Hotter than Bond, cooler than Bullitt.

Despite its influence on the "blaxploitation" genre, the original Shaft was a mainstream film produced by a major studio. It was a film noir mystery, only the noir here also applied to the main character, and so there are additional racial issues addressed in the film than one would usually find of a film of this type in that era (for example, Shaft is late for a meeting because he can't catch a cab). The success of that film made Richard Roundtree into one of the first action stars of color to explode onto the American landscape and spawned two sequels, a series of television movies and a 2000 follow-up feature that had Samuel L. Jackson taking over from Roundtree as the next generation.

One of the things that contributed immensely to the success of the movie was its R&B score by Isaac Hayes, who learned the scoring process as he was working on the film. Hayes' album re-recording was an instant success, and he won an Oscar for his pulsating "Theme from Shaft." There is a fine line in his score between source and score music, which is a stylistic aspect that was retained in the sequels (and many of the film's imitators). Director Gordon Parks stepped in to record the music for Shaft's Big Score once it became apparent that Hayes would not be available to return. The scoring of the first sequel was a whirlwind process accomplished in an extremely short period, but you wouldn't be able to tell from the music, which has been a genre favorite since its original release.

Johnny Pate was responsible for both the music for the third film Shaft in Africa (which had John Guillerman stepping in as director), bringing an very mild ethnic touch to the score, as well as the more traditional Shaft television show, which was a series of 90 minute telefilms that would alternate with Hawkins as part of The New CBS Tuesday Night Movies. Interestingly, the series was the only one of the original Shaft franchise to feature Hayes' theme. John Singleton revived the character in 2000, this time bringing David Arnold on board to provide a score that is very consistent with Pate's approach to the series, also incorporating the iconic theme.

A few weeks ago, Film Score Monthly announced the release of the Shaft Anthology box set, which made me instantly imagine the possibilities of a Shaft compilation. In preparation, I ordered Johnny Pate's Shaft in Africa, the only score of the original franchise not to be included in the box set. I already owned the superclean DSD remaster of the original Stax album of Shaft - which I had originally purchased because it was a hybrid Super Audio CD - and a promo of David Arnold's score for the 2000 film, and so once the set arrived, I began scoping out tracks for the eventual mix. I spent all day Friday immersed in the various Shaft recordings, making a specific note to compare the analogous parts of the album and film version of Shaft.

The actual album itself came together in a single marathon session (during which I had no concept of time), using the concept of a four sides (fitting, I felt, given that the Shaft Stax album was the first double LP from an R&B artist). I had considered this a rough draft, but I have been listening to it for the past several days and am quite surprised at how breezy the whole thing is. Despite the length of the disc, it doesn't feel terribly long, and there is a consistency to the whole that is surprising considering that only Pate's television and Arnold's 2000 scores actually had thematic continuity with the original film. I debated for a while whether I should include cracker Arnold's score, but in the end concluded that it did fit stylistically, and it was consistent with the original series with Roundtree reprising his iconic role (uncle to Samuel L. Jackson's character).

This is an album consisting of funky grooves, jazz licks, silky strings and the like, and as a result, the actual assembly process ended up following more along the lines of one of my rock mixes than it does one of my usual film series compilations. I wanted the art to evoke an LP cover from the 70s, and so I searched far and wide for the proper fonts and image and chose a period and genre appropriate color scheme (the result is actually very similar to the cover of Willie Hutch's Foxy Brown album).

There was no question that I would open this album with "Theme from Shaft," the question was which version I would decide to use. I ended up deciding that the original Stax album version was the one by which all the others were being compared to, and so that is how this disc kicks off. The film version of "Theme from Shaft" concludes the album, after the voluminous but entertaining "Symphony for Shafted Souls" brings it to a climax; the transition mimics how the finale of "Rescue" tails off into "Roll-up" in the original Shaft. I didn't do much editing to the body of tracks, although a few from the series have been shortened for purposes of album flow. There are several other vocal tracks, including Gordon Parks' "Blowin' Your Mind," sung in Hayes style by O.C. Smith for Shaft's Big Score, the Four Tops performing "Are You Man Enough" from Shaft in Africa, and another from the original film, "Soulsville."

In memory of Isaac Hayes (1942 - 2008)

25 Tracks • 81:29

  1. Isaac Hayes: Theme from Shaft — Vocal (4:30)
    From the 1971 Stax album “Shaft”

  2. David Arnold: Tailed (1:27)
    From the 2000 film “Shaft”

  3. Johnny Pate: Hotel Room (2:25)
    From the 1973 “Shaft” television episode “The Killing”

  4. O.C. Smith: Blowin’ Your Mind — Vocal (3:19)
    From the 1972 film “Shaft’s Big Score!”

  5. Isaac Hayes: Entry to Mystery (0:56)
    From the 1971 film “Shaft”

  6. Johnny Pate: Jazar’s Theme (1:31)
    From the 1973 film “Shaft in Africa”

  7. David Arnold: Shaft is the Man (2:00)
    From the 2000 film “Shaft”

  8. Gordon Parks: Ike’s Place (4:05)
    From the 1972 film “Shaft’s Big Score!”

  9. Johnny Pate: Omlette (1:53)
    From the 1973 “Shaft” television episode “Hit-Run”

  10. Isaac Hayes: No Name Bar (6:05)
    From the 1971 Stax album “Shaft”

  11. Johnny Pate: You Can’t Even Walk in the Park (2:29)
    From the 1973 film “Shaft in Africa”

  12. David Arnold: The Set-Up (2:22)
    From the 2000 film “Shaft”

  13. Isaac Hayes: Shaft’s Walk (2:18)
    From the 1971 film “Shaft”

  14. Gordon Parks: Asby-Kelly Man (1:39)
    From the 1972 film “Shaft’s Big Score!”

  15. Johnny Pate: The Headman (2:12)
    From the 1973 film “Shaft in Africa”

  16. Isaac Hayes: Soulsville — Vocal (3:42)
    From the 1971 Stax album “Shaft”

  17. Johnny Pate: Shaft in Car (0:55)
    From the 1973 “Shaft” television episode “The Executioners”

  18. David Arnold: Scene of the Crime (2:48)
    From the 2000 film “Shaft”

  19. Isaac Hayes: Ellie’s Love Theme (3:10)
    From the 1971 Stax album “Shaft”

  20. The Four Tops: Are You Man Enough — Vocal (3:17)
    From the 1973 film “Shaft in Africa”

  21. Johnny Pate: Follow Cunningham (3:28)
    From the 1973 “Shaft” Television episode “The Executioners”

  22. David Arnold: The Car Chase (3:04)
    From the 2000 film “Shaft”

  23. Johnny Pate: Shaft in Africa (Addis) (3:01)
    From the 1973 film “Shaft in Africa”

  24. Gordon Parks: Symphony for Shafted Souls (14:03)
    From the 1972 film “Shaft’s Big Score!”

  25. Isaac Hayes: Theme from Shaft Reprise — Vocal (4:34)
    From the 1971 film “Shaft”


Composed by Isaac Hayes

Rhythm by Bar-Kays and The Movement

Film score orchestrated and conducted by Johnny Allen and J.J. Johnson
Technical score consultation by Tom McIntosh
Stax album recording features The Memphis Strings and Horns
“Shaft’s Walk” co-written with J.J. Johnson

Shaft’s Big Score!(1972)

Composed by Gordon Parks

Orchestrated by Dick Hazard, Tom McIntosh, Jimmy Jones and Dale Oehler
Conducted by Dick Hazard
“Blowin’ Your Mind” vocals by O.C. Smith

Shaft in Africa(1973)

Composed, arranged and conducted by Johnny Pate

“Are You Man Enough” sung by The Four Tops
Written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter

Shaft” Television Series (1973)

Composed, arranged and conducted by Johnny Pate
Interpolating “Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes


Composed by David Arnold
Interpolating “Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes

Orchestrated by Nicholas Dodd and Lester Snell
Conducted by Nicholas Dodd

Engineered by Aaron Rochin, William Brown, Henry Bush, Bobby Manuel, Dave Purple,
Joe Sidore, Phil Kaye, Howard Gale, Steve Barri, Ron Christopher Horvath and Robert Fernandez

That's some cold shit, throwing my man Leroy out the window. Just picked my man up and threw him out the goddamn window.
- Willy (Drew Bundini Brown)