I never tire of the classics. For his 1972 MGM album, Now Davis Jr. offered his take on “Shaft” titled here as “John Shaft.” Here’s a question? Why. At this point, Isaac Hayes’s “Shaft” was still selling. Really, it’s shocking that someone else would even think to do a version. That person either loved the song or had brass ones. That man was Sammy Davis Jr.
Oddly enough “John Shaft” was indeed better than the subsequent music from the Shaft sequels. But still, really. Although I thought that Sammy came up with these lyrics with his snoot full of whatever, they were exactly written by respected Stax lyricist, Bettye Crutcher. Despite Davis’s attempt to light a fire over them, they make the very idea of this totally lame. But it doesn't sound bad. No surprise there. The band that Isaac Hayes used at the time is on the track as well as Hayes’s arranger Onzie Horne. So what this is another take on “Shaft” albeit a Vegas-y one. Throughout the track Sammy is a bit corny, vacillating from being oblivious and or unaware of what’s going on to indulging in the most embarrassing cool talk ever. The end of the song is particularly telling as Sammy offers a “Hey man, can you dig him? Sammy later gives Shaft a compliment with, “Always looking so cool/Together for days in all that leather.” Ok. Now also has his AM Gold smash, “Candy Man.” That song is one of my favorites. Sadly for me I'm not kidding.
In The Same Vein: Sammy did have a hit with 1976's "Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow." He also did a version of "Chico and the Man." What I wanted to hear? You guessed it. Sammy singing "Shaft." That's right I did hear it, I give a B+
A horrified Sammy actually listening to "John Shaft."