Monday, May 12, 2008

'Shaft's Big Score' - Gordon Parks (1972)

Gordon Park's score for the second Shaft film seems to have fallen into some sort of soundtrack netherworld. The O.C Smith theme song "Blowin' Your Mind" (which is almost a continuation of the original Isaac Hayes theme) has appeared on a few blaxploitation compilations, but the rest of it remains out of print. Even a "Best Of Shaft" compilation released in 1999 completely omits this album, focusing on the first and third films, "Shaft" and "Shaft In Africa".

Critical opinion of "Shaft's Big Score", when it has existed has generally been quite disparaging, focusing on the fact that Parks (who also directed the first two Shaft films) had to complete this soundtrack in two weeks, with Isaac Hayes apparently being unavailable.

But let me put it to you that this soundtrack is worth a listen (and a download) - Parks is an interesting composer working with great orchestrators. He takes Hayes' funk, strings and brass template, and adds in subtle, shifting woodwind textures, developing and extending the pastiche riffs - it's a true musical "sequel" to the original Shaft.

There's more jazz here. In two earlier short tracks - "The Other Side" has the melancholy of some of the sequences in Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man". The track "First Meeting" (in the traditional blaxploitation 'love theme' role) has a beautiful interplay between muted vibes, dark minor strings, and Freddie Hubbard's trumpet soloing over brass chord clusters.

There's some filler, and a couple of OC Smith vocal tracks, but the master track here is the thirteen minute "Symphony for Shafted Souls", which takes up all of side two on the album. Starting off in traditional chase music territory, it breaks down in the middle to a rolling, repeating series of chords that are passed between brass and strings. Snatches of all the main themes start to come back in, then Freddie Hubbard's trumpet leads the orchestra to a big-band finish.

I found this in one of those amazing Tokyo record shops in 2000. There's a bit of dust, but the vinyl's in much better condition than the dirty old cover I've scanned above :)

While you're listening, read a bit about Gordon Parks, who was something of a renaissance man - besides directing the Shaft films, he was a major LIFE magazine photographer, a civil rights campaigner, published books of poetry, composed music for operas and theatre, and generally worked across many forms of art, guided by a social politics that was concerned with poverty and inequality. His Wikipedia page has some good detail. Also, here's a sequence of his photos.

'Shaft's Big Score' - Gordon Parks (1972)

01 Blowin´ Your Mind (Vocal : O.C. Smith)
02 The Other Side
03 Smart Money
04 First Meeting
05 Asby-Kelly Man
06 Don´t Misunderstand (Vocal : O.C. Smith)
07 Move On It (Vocal : O.C. Smith)
08 Symphony For Shafted Souls
(The Big Chase)
Take Off / Dance of the Cars / Water Ballet (Part I) / Water Ballet (Part II) / Call and Response / The Last Amen.

Composer - Gordon Parks
Producer - Tom McIntosh
Engineer - Aaron Rochin
Conducted by Dick Hazard (great name!)
Orchestrations by Dick Hazard, Tom McIntosh, Jimmy Jones, Dale Oehler.
Trumpet - Freddie Hubbard
Guitar - Joe Pass
Alto Sax - Marshal Royal
Vocals - O.C. Smith

Click the back cover (above) for more credits - edit : better scan somewhere further down in the comments. Also, scroll down in comments to get Funkback's "missing track" by Isaac Hayes (which is in the movie, but not on the album), as well as a 200dpi scan of the back cover that I've added on request.



ish said...

who IS the man...

thanks for this one Simon. I don't know it and I love blaxploitation soundtracks.

Anonymous said...

I always liked the accompanying music to the helicopter chase. Thanks for the post.

Djalma said...

Nice start of the blog Simon! I'll check out the Waterbearers and get back @ you... Wish you luck, peace...


Anonymous said...

This was a very sucessfully (at least for me) tv serie in Brazil & i used to see the serie just because the music, well and some guns too :-) the guy was cool...666 times thanks to you simon!

Anonymous said...

I didn't care for blaxploitation when it was happening in the early seventies, but I like it now. thanx

Simon666 said...

Good that you guys are enjoying this.

Anonymous : yes, that helicopter scene - when it chases Shaft into the warehouse - is the bit that I remember most in the film. The original "Shaft" movie is so slow-paced when viewed now, something that I think Quentin Tarantino was almost satirising in the pacing of "Jackie Brown". However, "Shaft's Big Score" actually stands up relatively better today in terms of the action pacing ..

Simon666 said...

... and thanks ish and djalma for comments.
Lots of downloads happening for this one, let's hear from some of you :)

E-mile said...

hi Simon,
already knew this one, but checked your link to the photo's of 'the man' and must say I really liked it
thanks for directing me to those :)
peace, E-mile
PS your rhodes comps are "on the spot"-less! Nice. Maybe you could do a 1970-1975-all-jazzrock-rhodes comp sometime?

Simon666 said...

hey e-mile - yes, I also didn't know much about Gordon Parks' photography before I researched for this post, glad you enjoyed that ...
Re the Rhodes comps - when i got the first comp together, I had to break it down from - i dunno - HUNDREDS of hours of rhodes songs, so all will come out eventually :) Thanks for dropping by again!

Erik said...

Hey! Cover scans and all! You da man! I know You from over at 4BB and their Herbie campaign. Awesome stuff. Your blog is great too! Thanks for sharing 320. Like I said over att Blaxploitation Pride I'm chipping in with the "missing" Issac Hayes track instrumental Type Thang from the movie. Here it is, unfortunatley I havent got the single but ripped it from his instrumentals CD:

Simon666 said...

Hi Funkback -
Thanks for that, but I don't think it's actually from this movie or this soundtrack. Hayes himself was not involved with this production - all reports are that this is the B-side of Isaac Hayes' theme from "The Men". But anyway if I'm wrong, could you give me a reference for that info ?

Carrasco said...

Hi Simone,

thanks for the rip (well, thanks in davance, I haven't downloaded yet). But I did grab the covers. Any chance you post the back cover in even better quality?

As for Isaac Hayes: he is even mentioned in the opening credits. Type thang is being used as background music in Mascolo's club where a black and painted woman is dancing to the tune on the stage.

I guess, the piece is a left-over drom the first movie. Apart from the instrumental version there is another one with Ike's vocals out there.

Simon666 said...

Hi Carrasco -

Thanks for the info - I haven't actually watched the movie in ten years, so good to have that confirmed.

Re back cover :
Got a cheapass small scanner here, but what i've just done is to upload the original 200 dpi scan before I optimised it to 72 for web display, so it's bigger and better, get it from here :

Funkback - apologies! You had it right all along.
I'll put a note on the post itself about the additional track being in the comments...

Anonymous said...

thanks for this!

Carrasco said...

Thanks a lot for the high-res back cover scan, Simon (excuse the superfluous e in my previous posting, plz).
I will do some color adjustment, sharpening etc.
Some time ago, when I was in need of a front cover, I took pains to assemble a CD cover from various poster snippets.
The LP back cover will do well as the front cover flipside, and I will create a CD back cover in a few days. I will post a download link for the complete set here, if that's okay with u.

Simon666 said...

That'd be great Carrasco.
You're clearly a fan of this album :)
I'll upload the 200dpi version of the FRONT cover tonight as well.


Simon666 said...

Here you go Carrasco -
Front cover scan @ 200dpi ; 6mb :

Sly Hoax said...

Very cool stuff here- Thanks!

Unknown said...

Fire dude...pure fire

Unknown said...

Thanks for this very rare and very hard to find gem!

BlueCat said...

Great stuff and job here! Many thanks for ya time, dedication and this music taste!

Peace 4 ya all!

Justice said...

I lost my album....or someone stole it



Simon666 said...

wow that sucks ... you should send Shaft after them!

Wally $ean said...

Good stuff man. I figured you may know what song this is, but in the trailer for Shaft's Big Score, there's a song playing in the background that was sampled in Ghostface Killah's song "Apollo Kids." Do you happen to know if this what song this is?

Simon666 said...

Hey Wally I realise I never replied to that question - no idea sorry!

Gianni aka Cesare Barbetta said...

thank you Simon,
frayker blog is fantastic too!

Unknown said...

when in the original shaft - shaft is doing the assault on the block at the end - there is that long minimal groove of guitars + wah etc - was this ever released on any outtake masters? has anyone heard of this being released - and what was it released as? thanks

Robert said...


much appreciated!!

Dan Buskirk said...

Thanks, it's great to catch up on Pate's soundtrack work!

Simon666 said...

Soundtrack album from episode 4 of the 'Shaft' TV series, "The Executioner", music by Johnny Pate, now added to Shaftography and posted at Fraykerbreaks :

ILIAS said...


Anonymous said...

Again, great work of yours: Thank You

Anonymous said...

Thanx so much!!!

DJ Kool JB said...

@Wally $ean, the song you're talkin about is from another blaxploitation film called "Cool Breeze" ironically from MGM pictures, the same company that put out the original shaft film, lol.

The artist is Solomon Burke, do some checkin for the soundtrack, it's not hard to find. And it is the title track. Hope that helps ya...peace

CBlack said...

July 2010 and the link still works!
Many, many thanks. Too bad the Fraykerbreaks links aren't around any more. He's got his blog back, but all those old episodes he posted are gone. I missed them the first time around.

Simon666 said...

Hi Cblack -
Two years later, nice to still get a comment :)
Since then there's been a 3Cd comp that includes this soundtrack AND all of those episodes, called "Shaft's Big Score and more" :

MP3 @ 192 :


Henry R. Kujawa said...

I love all 3 SHAFT movies! The series got less respect on Tv around here as it went. SHAFT was run on CBS, who cut 35 minutes out of it. 35!!! How did it even make sense? Yet that "slow" pace some complain about was elminated, and I fell in love with the film, while wonderig what the HELL could be missing?

In the early 80's, SBS was run on ABC's local affiliate (Channel 6) on a MIDNIGHT show. SIA turned up years later on a cable channel, around 2:30 AM. The tv movies, more years later, at 4 AM. (But they were terrible-- not just compared to the features, but compared to the NBC MYSTERY MOVIES they were run opposite! Seems to me someone was trying to KILL the franchise.)

Many at the IMDB complain about the score of SBS. B***S***. Each of the 3 films are very different, and each has a score that fits them perfectly. I JUST got done watching SBS again, and LOVE the music from beginning to end! Man, that Gordon Parks was something else! All thru the helicopter chase, I kept thinking, Eon should have hired HIM to direct LIVE AND LET DIE, not Guy Hamilton. (Of course, LALD might have been a completely different film if George Lazenby had been in it.)

While I also like SAI, the fact that they hire "Mr. filmed-on-location-in-Africa", John Guillerman, seems a ply by the studio to take the franchise out of the hands of those who made it successful. I really, really wish there had been a 4th film more in the style of SBS. Maybe they could have set it in Las Vegas... (heh)

Henry R. Kujawa said...

Any chance of getting the "missing" Isaac Hayes song? The link is no longer working. And that's one of the most exciting pieces in the film! the combo of music and editing... WOW.

Simon666 said...

Here you go Henry :

Henry R. Kujawa said...

Thanks so much!

I was too busy to tackle it before, but today I'm trying to see what i can do to "clean up" some of the vinyl tracks. The theme song was too scratchy, so I';m replacing it with a version from a "blaxploitation" CD someone sent me. The rest seems like I can get rid of some of the pop & crackle.

As for the Isaac Hayes track, any sugestions to WHERE in the full soundtrack LP it would fit good? I've done this kind of thig before, adding a "B" side or such in the middle of an LP, but figured I'd ask the opinions of other fans here.

NO doubt about it-- SBS is my favorite SHAFT movie! Wish they'd done more like it.

catGhost said...

There's a track that plays after Shaft emerges from a coffin he was hiding in, in the funeral parlour. I don't know who's idea it was to leave that off the soundtrack - it's the best thing on there!

Thanks for the upload BTW.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot ! Your notes made me want to listen to this Big Score. Sure I'm gonna enjoy it.

The Walk said...

I know this has gotten asked a few times, but the Internet is a rather unforgiving place, and even the most recent link is dead, so... Anyone know where I might get a copy of the Missing Track from this movie? ._. It would be greatly appreciated, and I thank you in advance!

Unknown said...

Thank you! Thank you! Much appreciate this post! I have looked high and low for this soundtrack.