Isaac Hayes’ soundtrack to Gordon Parks’ 1971 Shaft is being reissued in a deluxe version with liner notes from Questlove. The movie was one of the backbones to the blaxploitation film era. Hayes’ theme song for the film won an Academy award and proved to be the only competition to Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly score. The reissue is remastered and limited to 5,000 copies. Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was considered by some as the independent pioneer of the blaxploitation movement when his film debuted in April in 1971. But Shaft was definitely the movie to bring the genre to the mainstream when it hit theaters in June of 1971.
The music from the film’s score and the album were not the same. The first songs were a series of instrumentals Hayes recorded at MGM’s studios in California. He returned to his base in Memphis and re-recorded the music at the Stax studios and those recordings became Shaft—Music From The Soundtrack. The music heard in the film was released in a 2008 limited edition box set. The deluxe reissue will be the first time that both collections of songs are packaged together. Questlove notes,
“Hayes was a specialist at mood music, in the sense that he knew how to employ orchestration and tempo to elicit emotions from his listening audience. ‘Bumpy’s Lament’ is sad and contemplative, a perfect match for Gunn’s gangster, worried about the fate of his daughter. ‘Walk to Regio’s’ approximates downtown energy with a pulsing bass and a chirping guitar that opens up into a fully orchestrated section. ‘Do Your Thing’ is another straightforward song, brassy and sultry.”
Isaac Hayes was already a hit songwriter for Stax and had become a solo star with the breakthrough album Hot Buttered Soul in 1969. Isaac Hayes was at the apex of his creativity and his performance of the theme at the 1972 Academy Awards ceremony is one of the most memorable. He also had a cameo in the film as a bartender. Parks’ Shaft became a trilogy of films including Shaft’s Big Score (1972) and Shaft In Africa (1973) the latter which was directed by John Guillermin. John Singleton rebooted the franchise in 2000 with Samuel L. Jackson in the role of John Shaft. Jackson returns in the sequel to the 2000 film on June 14th which is the same day the reissue will be released but it can be pre-ordered from Stax.