Who is the man? Isaac Hayes - that is. Damn right! Today’s choice of orchestral funk, and another film theme, comes from the great Stax songwriter and singer from Tennessee, king of the deep voice. Hayes’s music contains what may now seem like cop TV cliches - that heavy dose of the wah-wah guitar pedal, big horns, and those strong, vocal proclamations (later known more widely for the character of Chef in South Park and his ‘Chocolate Salty Balls’) the early 70s blaxploitation movie era, but Hayes pretty much invented this alongside his other writing partners, such as David Porter, Bill Withers, the Sherman Brothers, Steve Cropper, and John Fogerty, and it’s now wonder this theme from the 1971 film won him an Oscar in 1972. It’s a depiction of the the private detective John Shaft, a sex machine to all the ladies. How many songs can get away with the opening phrase black private dick? Instantly exciting from the off, most notable is the sixteenth-note hi-hat ride pattern, played by Willie Hall, echoing Otis Redding's Try A Little Tenderness, on which Hayes had played, and guitarist Charles Pitts' wah-wah guitar, not to mention the brilliant Memphis Horns and Memphis Strings. Timeless, masculine and, although dated in its own way, still magnificent.
Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks?
Ya damn right
Who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man?
Can you dig it?
Who's the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about?
They say this cat Shaft is a bad mother...
(Shut your mouth)
I'm talkin' 'bout Shaft
(Then we can dig it)
He's a complicated man
But no one understands him but his woman
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