I’m talking ’bout Shaft

Was there anyone less likely to buy Isaac Hayes’ soundtrack to “Shaft” in 1971 than me?

I was a sports- and music-obsessed ninth-grader from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, then a nice German/Dutch town with almost no black population. I doubt 14-year-old white kids were anywhere near the target audience.

But when I heard “Theme From Shaft,” the single, on WOKY, then the big AM top-40 station out of Milwaukee, I knew I had to have it. That was how kids like me got hepped to sounds like that. The Mighty 92 — my near-constant companion — mixed pop, rock, soul and R&B on its playlist. Hard to believe today, I know.

“Shaft” was only the third album I ever bought. I don’t recall where I bought it. Maybe the record department in the basement of Prange’s or maybe the record department in the Penney’s in the new mall.

I wonder what my parents thought. I never asked. They never said.

You know “Theme From Shaft.” You may not know the rest of the album. Most of the cuts are instrumentals — classic soul and R&B that still sounds just fine. These are a couple of my favorites:

Walk From Regio’s.

Cafe Regio’s.

Both from the “Shaft” soundtrack, Isaac Hayes, 1971.


Filed under February 2007, Sounds

5 responses to “I’m talking ’bout Shaft

  1. Musicradio

    I was 11 in 1971. But I think I know the music of which you speak.
    The 70’s were an odd mix of hits — something no “Jack” station will ever recreate.
    Keep those thoughts coming!! I’ll be watching.

  2. Phil

    I’ve just come from Mr Bartlett and his The hits just keep on comin’ blog where I told the story of receiving Hotel California for Christmas 1976 and then I followed his link to your site for the first time and what do I find but you talking about the very first single I bought… Theme from Shaft!

    It entered our charts in December 1971 and that particular Christmas was when my older sister bought a record player, so after all those years of listening to music on the radio, the black vinyl disc entered our house for the first time. Purchased from Felix & Sons in the market hall, Shaft was the beginning of an ever growing music collection. That first year this collection was probably only a dozen or so singles I could easily carry around to play at friends’ houses. Our record player was one of those you could stack discs and play one after another as they dropped down on the “autochanger”(TM) – and of course you always flipped them to play the B sides, so I know Cafe Regio’s almost as well as Theme from Shaft. I like it so much it has been a fixture on many a mixtape since then! Thanks for the mp3!

    In 1972, we had a choice of one national radio station for music – namely Radio 1 and maybe Radio Luxembourg or a couple of pirate radio stations. They all played a mix of pop, rock and soul, so to me it was just another great record – carrying no baggage at all. I think it was still an odd choice for that “first record ever bought” for a 14-year-old from Derby in the East Midlands of the UK. I can’t guess what Sheboygan, Wis. (consin?) was like then, just like you probably can’t imagine Derby!

  3. Shark


    I, too, found my way to your blog by way of Mr. Bartlett’s “Hits Just Keep On Comin’.” We have been good friends since our college days at a college radio station in the late 1970s. I LOVE radio, but the radio I love is the late 60s, 1970s, and early 80s era. The first album I ever bought was Deep Purple’s “Machine Head.”

    Time travel? I would love to go back to May 26, 1959…to County Stadium in Milwaukee and watch the greatest game ever pitched—Harvey Haddix’s 12 inning perfect game, only to lose to the Braves in the 13th inning. Lew Burdette was the winning pitcher, scattering 12 hits. Better yet, I would love to listen to that game on the radio. It’s a pleasure to visit your blog.

  4. Welcome to WordPress! I felt the same way as you did about the toe in the water… but the only way to do it is to just “Do Your Thing”. And speaking of “Do Your Thing”, that happens to be my favourite track on “Shaft”. I should know, I’ve owned one for 30 years on various formats.
    I can totally relate to your first introductions to music as a kid. Believe it or not, the first record I ever purchased was “Operator” from the Manhattan Transfer back in 1976 (I was all of seven years old then) from the Memco which later became F & M, if they’re even still around… Needless to say I’ve been collecting ever since. I’ll be looking forward to your next post.

    Peace and Blessings.

  5. Superb! The third 45 I bought, yet I never owned the album. The first album I ever bought was School’s Out by Alice Cooper. Great read my friend.

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