Tag Archives: 1972

Shaft and me, 50 years on

50 years ago, at about this time of year, Isaac Hayes’ “Theme From Shaft” blew my 14-year-old mind.

As the first week of November 1971 came to a close, “Theme From Shaft” sat atop the Top 10 on WOKY, The Mighty 92 out of Milwaukee, one of the last great AM Top 40 stations. I listened to it every night. That Top 10:

  1. Theme From Shaft – Isaac Hayes                              
  2. Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves – Cher                            
  3. Imagine – John Lennon                                       
  4. Yo-Yo – Osmonds                                             
  5. Superstar – Carpenters                                      
  6. Easy Lovin’ – Freddie Hart                                   
  7. Two Divided By Love – Grass Roots                           
  8. Baby I’m-a Want You – Bread                                
  9. What Are You Doing Sunday – Dawn                           
  10. Never My Love – 5th Dimension      

“Theme From Shaft” was in its second week at No. 1 on WOKY, so you know it was in heavy rotation, getting spun every three hours or so. No complaints here.

Shaft soundtrack LP

The “Shaft” soundtrack was perhaps only the third album I ever bought. At the time, late 1971, it had the feel of being my first really sophisticated record. I wonder what my parents thought. I never asked. They never said.

Yes, I still have it.

I also have a bunch of “Shaft” covers, “Shaft” knockoffs and “Shaft” oddities.

The Man From Shaft LP by Richard Roundtree

My favorite Shaft-adjacent collectible is “The Man From Shaft,” by “Shaft” star Richard Roundtree. I found it maybe 15 years ago at one of the first record shows I ever went to. I grabbed it and I haven’t seen it in the wild since.

“Man From Shaft,” Richard Roundtree, from “The Man From Shaft,” 1972.

Eugene McDaniels produced and arranged this LP and wrote or co-wrote all eight of the nine cuts. There’s a tremendous group of jazz session musicians on it, too.

Shaft LPs, Soul Mann/Mack Browne and The Brothers

Then there are selections from the “Shaft” soundtrack performed by Soul Mann and The Brothers and Mack Browne and The Brothers. They’re the same group. The Soul Mann LP was released on Pickwick, an American budget label; the Mack Browne LP was released on Hallmark, a UK budget label, both in 1971. I have both for no apparent reason.

I have a bunch of covers of “Theme From Shaft.” Among those artists: El Michels Affair, Jimmy McGriff, Joe Bataan, Maynard Ferguson, Sammy Davis Jr., and Ike and Tina Turner. Still looking for the LPs with “Shaft” covers by Bernard Purdie and the Love Unlimited Orchestra.

You know what that sounds like, but here’s one of my favorite covers. It’s by Kashmere Stage Band from Kashmere High School in Houston. They don’t sound like high school kids.

Kashmere Stage Band Texas Thunder Soul CD cover, 2006

“Theme From Shaft,” Kashmere Stage Band, from “Texas Thunder Soul: 1968-1974,” 2006.

Finally, there is this. Did you know Isaac Hayes recorded a follow-up to “Theme From Shaft?” Well, of course he did, and of course it’s a long jam.

For The Sake Of Love LP, Isaac Hayes, 1978

“Shaft II,” Isaac Hayes, from “For The Sake Of Love,” 1978.

All that, and we still haven’t gotten to the film. More to come.

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Filed under November 2021, Sounds

See ya around, Poot

“North Dallas Forty” was on again not too long ago. I’ve seen it a bunch of times.

I knew the leads — Nick Nolte and Mac Davis — were still around. So I googled as I watched. Kinda surprised to find out Mac Davis was 78. Just didn’t seem like he should be that old, even if “North Dallas Forty” came out in 1979.

More surprised to learn this morning that Mac Davis died yesterday after heart surgery. Many tributes today have recounted the highlights of his long, distinguished career in music and entertainment.

None of them recounted this, though.

When I lived in central Wisconsin during the mid-’70s, we listened to WIFC, an FM station with a Top 40 format by day and a wonderful free-form format after 9 p.m. or so. In 1972, the No. 1 song on WIFC’s year-end list of the 30 most-requested album cuts was by Mac Davis.

WIFC top 30 album cut request of 1972

“Poor Boy Boogie” was either a jug band song or an eef beat song, depending on how you defined it. When Davis did it on “The Muppet Show” in 1980, he told a bunch of Beakers “why don’t you just eef along with me,” so there’s that.

It was more often requested than “Pusherman,” by Curtis Mayfield from the “Super Fly” soundtrack, more often requested than Deep Purple’s “Highway Star,” more often requested than the Allman Brothers’ “One Way Out.”

That should tell you everything you care to know about the musical tastes of central Wisconsin in the early 1970s.

Mac Davis Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me LP

“Poor Boy Boogie,” Mac Davis, from “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me,” 1972.

That’s one memory. Here’s the other.

Mac Davis was perfect in “North Dallas Forty” as Seth Maxwell, a smug, self-centered, insecure pro quarterback clearly inspired by Don Meredith. Perfect right down to one word of West Texas slang I’d never heard before. Poot.

“Poot” was his nickname for Nick Nolte’s character, receiver Phil Elliott.

I always wondered what “Poot” meant.

Pete Gent, the former pro football player who in 1973 wrote the novel upon which the film was based, explained it in a 2003 chat with ESPN Classic:

“It’s a Texas nickname. It means ‘fart.’ That was part of Mac Davis’ ad-libbing in the movie. He is from Lubbock. It was perfect. That’s the magic that can happen. The madness got up on the screen.”

Mac Davis, forever young, winging it.

See ya around, Poot.

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Filed under September 2020, Sounds

The timelessness of protest

You don’t need me to tell you what’s going down in this country these days. You know what the score is.

Did you say you’re a public servant?
Well, then let me ask you why
You’re keeping the public uninformed
When you’re not feedin’ us with lies

Listen to our founding fathers
Sit down and read the Bill of Rights
You’d better learn how to play the game by the rules
Or you’re gonna have an awful fight

Sounds a lot like today, right?

This is Chi Coltrane, the singer and pianist most know from the hit single “Thunder and Lightning,” dropping some thunder and lightning on the president in 1972.

There it is, the timelessness of protest.

‘Cause I will not dance to your music
And I will not drink your wine
And I will not toast to your success
Because you’re no friend of mine, oh yeah, you know it
You’re no friend of mine

Nope, no friend of mine then, no friend of mine now.

“I Will Not Dance,” Chi Coltrane, from “Chi Coltrane,” 1972.

This was from Coltrane’s debut LP. So what happened to Chi Coltrane?

After “Let It Ride,” the follow-up LP, came out in 1973, Coltrane recorded sporadically. In 1977, she moved to Europe, where she found a more passionate following and released three records during the ’80s. Her last LP of new material was “The Message,” one of those European releases, in 1986. She returned to Los Angeles in 1993 and built a recording studio.

Ten years ago, in 2009, Coltrane resumed performing. That year, she also released a career retrospective comp with three new songs. In 2012, she released a live CD of a “comeback concert” in Vienna on her own label.

Now 70, Coltrane remains popular in Europe, particularly Switzerland and Germany, playing shows there as recently as last year.

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Filed under September 2019, Sounds

I gotta get out of here

They say the wind chill could reach 40 below tomorrow. Maybe the next day, too.

It’s a flashback to 1972. We’d just moved. New house, new school, for the fifth time in nine years. Kids are resilient, but for me, that was the toughest move.

At 14, during my last year of junior high, I’d finally made it into a nice circle of friends. Not the popular kids, but a group you might call the class leaders. Got to know some girls. Got invited to a couple of parties. All innocent enough, yet trusted enough to not spill the beans when some of the basketball players drank too much at another kind of party.

Then, BOOM. I went from junior high in Sheboygan one week directly into high school near Wausau, 150 miles to the northwest, the next week. So much for freshman orientation.

Being the new kid and trying to make new friends again is hard enough. Then the temperature dropped out of sight for two weeks. Thus the flashback.

Even the radio — my constant companion — added to the isolation I felt. Part of it was navigating my way to a new home on the dial. The local FM radio station, top 40 during the day, free form at night, was quite different than AM Top 40, the only format I’d ever known.

The songs on the radio didn’t help.

Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.” America’s “Horse With No Name.” The Addrisi Brothers’ “We’ve Got To Get It On Again.” Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Downers, bummers, vaguely haunting, reflecting some kind of loneliness or loss, reinforcing a sense of isolation. Exactly where my head was at. I hear those songs today, and I still keenly feel what I felt during that bitterly cold winter of 1972. They aren’t among my favorites, save for one, Nilsson’s “Without You.”

Yet winter always gives way to spring. Track and field season started. I met a guy, my fellow team manager, who has been my friend ever since. We bonded over songs on the radio and lots of other things. More friends came along. More opportunities came along.

Better songs came along, too. I got the hang of FM radio, particularly the late-night free-form portion. But there was some adjustment necessary. As in the realization and acceptance that, all right, these are the kinds of songs they play on the radio now. Like this one.

“Halo of Flies,” Alice Cooper, from “Killer,” 1971. This is one of the first records I bought that first year in that new place. My copy still has the 1972 calendar that came with it.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under January 2019, Sounds

Have a Harry Halloween, everyone

Saw this earlier today on Twitter.

This is another of those records I’ve had forever.

“Nilsson Schmilsson,” its 1971 predecessor, was one of the first few LPs I ever bought. Thinking back, I probably bought it with Christmas money. I know it from front to back. Loved it then, love it now.

So of course when “Son of Schmilsson” came out in the summer of 1972, I bought it right away. Thinking back, I probably bought it with birthday money.

“Son of Schmilsson” fell right into a 15-year-old’s wheelhouse. I was a sophomore-to-be, and this record was sophomoric if nothing else. It’s full of irreverent and rude humor, lapsing into vaguely bad taste well before that notorious belch between songs on Side 2. Oh, yeah, I know this record from front to back, too. We had a lot of fun listening to “Son of Schmilsson” back then.

Listening to it now, though, and knowing how Harry Nilsson’s life unfolded — and of course, unraveled — it’s a little sad.

“It’s a deeply strange record, one which seems to be almost willful self-sabotage in places,” Mr. Andrew Hickey wrote this summer in a fine, must-read breakdown of “Son of Schmilsson” at his blog, Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

That pretty much nails it.

So please enjoy the most elegant cut on “Son of Schmilsson,” a song that went unappreciated by a certain 15-year-old in 1972. All those years later, its poignant message hits home.

Long ago, far away / Life was clear / Close your eyes / Remember …

“Remember (Christmas),” Nilsson, from “Son of Schmilsson,” 1972.

Bonus cover!

“Remember,” Randy Newman, from “For the Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson,” 1995.

The proceeds from this tribute record, which was released after Nilsson’s death in 1994, went to The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Nilsson became passionate about the cause after the shooting death of his friend John Lennon in 1980.

 

 

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Filed under October 2018, Sounds