All right. I've been sitting on these way too long, so let's get this done!
Everyone who knows anything about music or pop culture knows Isaac Hayes' iconic "Theme From Shaft." Here are ten of the best recordings related to that track.
The legendary hi-hat riff was first heard in Otis Redding's 1966 version of "Try A Little Tenderness," which had been arranged by Ike while Booker T. Jones was at university. Five years later, Hayes reused the riff, and a stuttering wah-wah guitar, to secure his status as a legend of funk and soul music, with the theme to a major film hit.
The Ventures covered the song the next year, and at about the same time the original backing musicians from Ike's version recorded a sequel, "Son of Shaft." Now we'll leave behind any attempt at chronological organization, as we jump forward a few decades to Malik Adouane's Arabic pop cover. (video) The Central Band of the Canadian Forces play you a representative marching band version, and then we come to Sammy. Sammy Davis, Jr. reused the original backing band (but not the original lyrics) to record his own Rat Pack take on the song, in which "Shaft is the man."
To round out this post, I've added Cookie Monster's note-perfect parody (be sure to watch the video), and a cover by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Finally, we'll listen to Isaac Hayes revisit the song in 1978's disco remix "Shaft II."
As always, you can cherry pick if you insist, but there's a special little surprise in the zipfile you can't get otherwise. I'm planning a second edition of this song soon -- if you have requests for any particular versions, just shout them out in the comments section.
01. Otis Redding - Try A Little Tenderness 1 2
02. Isaac Hayes - Theme From Shaft 1 2
03. The Ventures - Theme From Shaft 1 2
04. The Bar-Kays - Son of Shaft 1 2
05. Malik Adouane - Shaft 1 2
06. The Central Band of the Canadian Forces - Theme From Shaft 1 2
07. Sammy Davis, Jr. - John Shaft 1 2
08. Cookie Monster - Cookie Disco 1 2
09. The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain - Theme From Shaft 1 2
10. Isaac Hayes - Shaft II 1 2