The Ventures

Theme from "Shaft"

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If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? The question seems apt over this album, because it's not precisely clear just who was supposed to buy the Ventures' Theme From Shaft LP, or even know that it was out there waiting to be heard. There was no lack of availability of Isaac Hayes' original version of the title track, and unless one objected to his vocals, there wasn't much exploration of the underlying instrumental component in the piece to pursue. On the other hand, just because a particular musical form (or the marketing ploy for it) might have gone out of style doesn't mean it doesn't have virtue. Twelve years into their history, the Ventures had lost none of their edge, and Jerry McGee's lead attack on "Gimme Some Lovin'," "Thunder Cloud," and even "Peace Train" is intrinsically exciting, and filled with tension that does hold the listener. John Durrill's organ playing isn't always the most interesting, as their other lead instrument, and some cuts, like "Indian Sun," sort of plod along, but right next to it is a genuine surprise, a successful vocal number by the group -- Durrill's "Deep, Deep in the Water" (which also features Red Rhodes on steel guitar) could have passed for a good number by Firefall, Swampwater, or England Dan & John Ford Coley, and the group's instrumental rendition of "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves" shows off Durrill and McGee working together most effectively. They don't add much to " "Never My Love," but McGee and rhythm guitarist Don Wilson tear through "I'm a Man" and in fine style. loud and bold, and the originals on side two are fun as well.

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