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Released by Special Arrangement With Turner Classic Movies Music.
From FSM and SAE: This anthology has been in the works for three years and its release is coincidental to the untimely passing of the great Isaac Hayes. In fact, it was sent to the pressing plant for manufacturing three weeks prior to his death. Mr. Hayes, we salute you!
“They say that cat is a bad mother—”
Yes, they’re talking about Shaft! On the famous record album, the lyric is “that cat Shaft is a bad mother—.” However, the name “Shaft” is omitted above because this is the film version of the legendary score—not the familiar record album—and this is one of many differences, both subtle and large, in the two versions of Isaac Hayes’s seminal work. This pioneering 3CD set features the previously unreleased original soundtrack to the 1971 Shaft along with music from the sequel, Shaft’s Big Score!, and 1973-74 TV series. It is the Shaft Anthology: His Big Score and More!
Shaft is one of the landmark characters and films not just of 1970s “blaxploitation” cinema but all of pop culture. For the first time, a black leading man (provocatively named and dynamically played by Richard Roundtree) talked back to white authority and acted like a cool James Bond who did whatever he wanted...and he was the hero. The character starred in seven novels, three feature films (with a fourth in recent years) and a TV series. FSM has compiled the best of Shaft’s 1970s previously unreleased-on-CD soundtracks as follows:
The original 1971 Shaft was one of the seminal films of “blaxploitation” movement, as Shaft gets involved in the Harlem rescue effort of a gangster’s kidnapped daughter. The score by Isaac Hayes not only set trends in film music but pop and R&B, with its spoken/sung lyrics, disco-era wah-wah guitar and high-hat cymbals, and lush, soulful orchestrations. The soundtrack was widely distributed on a 2LP set (later a CD) by Enterprise (Hayes’s personal label on Stax Records) but that was a re-recording done in Memphis. For the first time, this CD presents the original Hollywood-recorded film score featuring primordial versions of the source cues as well as all of the dramatic underscoring (little of which was adapted for the LP). It is a fascinating glimpse into Hayes’s creativity and an important archiving of this legendary work. As a bonus, disc one of this collection adds Hayes’s two singles released in 1972 related to M-G-M productions: “Theme From The Men” (a TV theme) and “Type Thang” (used in Shaft’s Big Score!).
The second Shaft film, Shaft’s Big Score! (1972), was scored by the director of the first two installments, Gordon Parks, when Hayes was unavailable. Parks was a multitalented musician, poet, author and photographer, in addition to filmmaker, who had scored his directorial debut, 1969’s The Learning Tree, and was technically assisted on his film scores (as was Hayes on Shaft) by Tom McIntosh. The Shaft’s Big Score! soundtrack called upon an earlier, Duke Ellington-style of sophisticated jazz compared to Hayes’s Memphis-style R&B, with a bravura climactic chase (“Symphony for Shafted Souls”) that has long made the soundtrack LP a treasured collectible. The complete soundtrack is presented here.
The third Shaft film, Shaft in Africa (1973), is not presented here for licensing reasons (though most of it was included on a 1999 compilation, The Best of Shaft). That film’s composer, Johnny Pate—the brilliant arranger for Curtis Mayfield on Superfly and other projects—returned for the short-lived Shaft TV series in 1973-74 (starring Roundtree), which had seven 90-minute episodes produced for CBS. Pate provided inventive adaptation of Hayes’s “Theme From Shaft” as well as his own groovy and suspenseful scoring—from an era in which most TV crime music sounded like Shaft, this is, delightfully, the real thing. Pate provided three full scores and two partial scores for the Shaft series (with the rest tracked with earlier cues), almost—but not all—of which are presented at the end of disc two and all of disc three of this set.
This entire collection is in excellent stereo sound, meticulously remixed from the first-generation M-G-M session masters. There are lots of afros in Joe Sikoryak’s art direction. The comprehensive liner notes are by Lukas Kendall.