The title track's perennially recognizable hi-hat and wah-wah guitar intro, interlocking horn/string parts, and smooth, proto-rap verses conjure the name SHAFT as surely as a snake-charmer's incantation. It also conjures the name of Isaac Hayes--the songwriter, arranger, musician, and producer responsible for the phenomenally successful soundtrack to the landmark 1971 Blaxploitation film. Hayes's status as a key player in the Stax/Volt soul empire, and as a solo artist of considerable renown, went through the roof with this double-LP (now compiled on a 70-minute CD). Hayes's lush, ambitious arrangements are performed by the Bar-Kays, one of Stax's premier house bands, along with guest string and horn players. Aside from the highbrow funk of the title track and two other vocal cuts (Hayes's ballad "Soulsville" and the near-20-minute midtempo funk of "Do Your Thing"), this is an instrumental set with a strong "cinematic" feel. Jazz, lounge, R&B, and atmospheric interludes are blended to give ample evidence of Hayes's brilliance as a composer and arranger. SHAFT was a commercial zenith for Hayes, and made his name as a giant of soul.