Shaft (Isaac Hayes album)

Shaft is a double album by Isaac Hayes, recorded for Stax Records' Enterprise label as the soundtrack LP for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's 1971 blaxploitation film Shaft. The album mostly consists of instrumentals composed by Hayes as score for the film. Three vocal selections are included: "Soulsville", "Do Your Thing", and "Theme from Shaft". A commercial and critical success, Shaft is Hayes' best-known work and the best-selling LP ever released on a Stax label.[2]

Shaft cover.jpg
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedAugust 1971
StudioStax Recording Studios, Memphis, Tennessee
GenreProgressive soul[1]
ProducerIsaac Hayes
Isaac Hayes chronology
...To Be Continued
Black Moses
Singles from Shaft
  1. "Theme from Shaft"
    Released: September 30, 1971

In 2014, the album was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."


Hayes initially became involved with Shaft in hopes of having director Gordon Parks cast him in the title role, because he was not aware that Richard Roundtree had already been cast as John Shaft.[2] Hayes did appear in the film in a cameo role, but, more significantly, composed the film's score. While the film was still in production, Parks sent Hayes raw footage of some of the film's scenes, and Hayes wrote three pieces for the scenes: "Theme from Shaft" for the opening title sequence, "Soulsville" for a scene in which Shaft walks through Harlem, and "Ellie's Love Theme" for a love scene.[2]

Pleased with the results, MGM hired Hayes to compose the rest of the score, and Hayes spent two months working between tour dates on the score at the MGM studio.[2] Once the score was composed and arranged, Hayes recorded the rhythm tracks with Stax band The Bar-Kays in one day.[2] The orchestral tracks were recorded the next day, and the vocals the day after that.[2] The songs were later re-recorded for the album at Stax Studios and slightly rearranged from their film versions: MGM's recording facility was based upon a three-track system, and Hayes wanted a richer sound for the album).[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [3]
Christgau's Record GuideC+[4]
Pitchfork Media8.5/10[5]
Q     [6]

Upon its release in the summer of 1971, Shaft became the first double album of original studio material released by an R&B artist.[2] The album peaked at number one on The Billboard 200 chart,[7] and spent sixty weeks on the chart. It took the top position on the Top R&B Albums chart for 14 weeks. It achieved Platinum status within a month of its release.[7] Both "Theme from Shaft" and "Do Your Thing" became Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with the former peaking at number one.

At the 1972 Grammy Awards, "Theme from Shaft" won the awards for Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical and Best Instrumental Arrangement. The film score as a whole won for Best Instrumental Composition Written Specifically For A Motion Picture or for Television. The National Association of Television and Radio Announcers gave Shaft its Album of the Year award.[2] At the Academy Awards that year, Hayes became the first African-American to win an Oscar for a non-acting category when "Theme from Shaft" won the award for Best Original Song.[2] Isaac Hayes was nominated for Original Dramatic Score as well, losing to Michel Legrand for the score to Summer of '42.

In a 2020 retrospective on the Shaft franchise, RetroFan stated that "Hayes' score helped change the way music was used in film, bringing in a more contemporary, funk/soul-driven sound. It had an especially significant impact on the coming wave of black films, setting the standard for how R&B music would be used in films, and marketed alongside of individual movies."[7]

The 2009 re-release of the soundtrack on CD by Stax Records added an additional track, "Theme from Shaft" (2009 Mix), timed at 4:45.

Track listingEdit

All songs written and produced by Isaac Hayes.

Side oneEdit

  1. "Theme from Shaft" (Vocal Version) – 4:39
  2. "Bumpy's Lament" – 1:51
  3. "Walk from Regio's" – 2:24
  4. "Ellie's Love Theme" – 3:18
  5. "Shaft's Cab Ride" – 1:10

Side twoEdit

  1. "Cafe Regio's" – 6:10
  2. "Early Sunday Morning" – 3:49
  3. "Be Yourself" – 4:30
  4. "A Friend's Place" – 3:24

Side threeEdit

  1. "Soulsville" (Vocal Version) – 3:48
  2. "No Name Bar" – 6:11
  3. "Bumpy's Blues" – 4:04
  4. "Shaft Strikes Again" – 3:04

Side fourEdit

  1. "Do Your Thing" (Vocal Version) – 19:30
  2. "The End Theme" – 1:56


Awards and chartsEdit

Billboard chartsEdit


Chart Position
Billboard 200 1
Black Albums
Jazz Albums


Single Chart Position
"Theme from Shaft" Billboard Hot 100 1
Black Singles 2
Adult Contemporary Singles 6

"Do Your Thing" was also a Top 40 Pop Single

Grammy AwardsEdit

Academy AwardsEdit

  • Theme from Shaft
    • Best Original Song - Theme From Shaft (Isaac Hayes)[8]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (August 11, 2008). "In Tribute: Isaac Hayes". AllMusic. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bowman, Rob (1997). Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records. New York: Schirmer Trade. p.229-233 ISBN 0-8256-7284-8
  3. ^ AllMusic review
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: H". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 26, 2019 – via
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ CDUniverse review
  7. ^ a b c Walker, David F. (August 2020). "Fifty Years of Shaft". RetroFan. United States: TwoMorrows Publishing (10): 6.
  8. ^ Shaft (1971) - IMDb, retrieved 2020-02-19