Saturday, August 9, 2014

Isaac Hayes: Hot Buttered Soul

Isaac Hayes had a long career as a soul songwriter and session musician prior to the launch of his own solo career in the early Seventies. Hayes was born in Covington, Tennessee, in 1942.

Hayes began his professional career as part of the Stax Records songwriting team of David Porter and Isaac Hayes that produced soul hits for Stax Records’ legendary roster of singers. The songs that Hayes and Porter produced for Stax include, “B-A-B-Y” by Carla Thomas, “I've Got to Love Somebody’s Baby” by Johnnie Taylor, and “Hold On! I'm Coming!” “You Got Me Hummin’,” “Soul Man,” and “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby” by Sam and Dave.

Hayes recorded his first solo album, “Presenting Isaac Hayes,” in 1967. The album contained pleasant soul numbers, but it was a tame effort compared to what was to come. When Atlantic Records bought out the Stax Records catalogue in 1968, Hayes was under pressure to write and record new material to replace what had been lost. He hurled himself into the task and while producing material for other artists, he also came up with the material for his brilliant sophomore album, “Hot Buttered Soul,” one of the greatest soul albums ever recorded.

The album contained four superb tracks-all of which clocked in at least five minutes. Covers of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By” and Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I get to Phoenix” ran at 12 minutes and 18 and a half minutes, respectively. Hayes’ extended takes on these songs transcended the originals with their dreamy instrumental passages.

Hayes recorded two more fine albums in 1970, “The Isaac Hayes Movement” and “…To Be Continued.” Hayes’ excellent soundtrack for the film, “Shaft,” would appear in 1971 with the title track becoming a hit. Another quality Hayes album, “Black Moses,” would be released in 1971, featuring lush string accompaniments to soulful songs such as a cover of another Bacharach song, “Close to You,” and a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Man’s Temptation.”

Hayes would continue to record throughout the Seventies and sporadically in the Eighties with lesser results. Hayes died in 2008 having achieved the status of a master among soul music figures.
The man in chains