Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Do Your Thing aka Side Four

Hey, John Shaft (and Isaac too)!  Do your thing!
Side Four: "Do Your Thing" is the pinnacle of the Shaft soundtrack.  Somehow it has managed to stay in the collection ... for now.

Do what thing?  Do YOUR thing!

VVer #1 picked up the double LP soundtrack to this famous 1971 blacksploitation flick on the cheap.  It's in lousy condition (hence the cheap), especially the sleeve which is in full decay.  The vinyl is roughed up too, but manages to play all the way through (most of the time).  The VVers gave it a full listen to see if it would make the cut or go into the purge box (that sounds wrong).  After the spin, the only song that really stood out was ... guess which one ... mainly because VVer #2 could continually use it as an answer to anything VVer #1 would say.  
"I'm gonna flip the record" : "Do your thing"
"Time for a beer" : "Do your thing"
Pretty groovy until: "I'm not going to do the dishes tonight" : "Do your thing"
Haha, that's fun, but not enough to keep the thing.

Into the out-bin to go to music store mecca the Sound Garden in Baltimore to be sold the next day.  No reason to keep a record (much less a crusty double) with only two or three great songs on it, right?  Why not get a few bucks in store credit?  At least that's how these VVers roll.  Well, the Sound Garden passed this gem up, along with a number of other allegedly inferior platters, so around the corner the VVers went to quirky record store, Own Guru, to see if the man wanted the goods.  No go (on anything); "wrong titles, poor condition."  At least he sold these VVers a cool Leadbelly record.  Last chance for this record to have a new home in Baltimore was at great vinyl spot, El Suprimo!, where the owner took ZZ Top's Tres Hombres, but left poor Isaac Hayes and his Oscar/Grammy winning soundtrack in the box.  Thus, it went into the "garage sale" pile ... until the VVers couldn't get this damn song out of their heads and popped it on during Halloween costume paper mache-ing.

Side Four starts off slow; so slow that the VVers thought they had made their signature mistake: playing the record at the wrong speed. (The memory of this song was fast and funked-out.)  "Do Your Thing" just had to get warmed up first, right?  The song begins with some loose, but thought provoking lyrics sung over a slow burn funk line.  An example, "if there's something you wanna say, and talkin' is the only way, rap on, oh, rap on." After a few minutes things start to rev up with all sorts of drum jamming, psychedelic guitar, and horn section riffing that seem to go on for a good fifteen minutes or so.  Things are getting pretty warm up in here!  Still no tempo shift though.  You have to wait at least twenty minutes (it seems) till you get to that point, but oh is it worth it.  When it finally goes down, funk guitar leading the way, you'll be squinting and head shaking like an idiot in no time!  The instrumental jam gets layered with vocals repeating "do your thing" in a fast, echoey chant.  The track weaves in and out of tempo with several false returns then ultimately careens into several cosmic cascades of funky jamness (it's a word, look it up).  Distortion and apparent ambience leads to an abrupt screeching halt that sounds exactly like the needle just flew off the record (really!).  Thus closes out this epic.  Is it supposed to sound like the needle flies off?  No one knows, but record, you "do your thing!"  A few beats of silence and then gentle morph into the flute laden reprise of the Shaft theme song.  Solid.

"Side Four, you have earned our respect."

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