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Soul - Released August 1, 1971 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Soul - Released January 1, 2009 | Stax

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Of the many wonderful blaxpoitation soundtracks to emerge during the early '70s, Shaft certainly deserves mention as not only one of the most lasting but also one of the most successful. Isaac Hayes was undoubtedly one of the era's most accomplished soul artists, having helped elevate Stax to its esteemed status; therefore, his being chosen to score such a high-profile major-studio film shouldn't seem like a surprise. And with "Theme from Shaft," he delivered an anthem just as ambitious and revered as the film itself, a song that has only grown more treasured over the years, after having been an enormously popular hit at the time of its release. Besides this song, though, there aren't too many more radio-targeted moments here. "Soulsville" operates effectively as the sort of downtempo ballad Hayes was most known for, just as the almost 20-minute "Do Your Thing" showcased just how impressive the Bar-Kays had become, stretching the song to unseen limits with their inventive, funky jamming. For the most part, though, this double-LP features nothing but cinematic moments of instrumentation, composed and produced by Hayes while being performed by the Bar-Kays -- some downtempo, others quite jazzy, nothing too funky, though. Even if it's not quite as enjoyable as Curtis Mayfield's Superfly due to its emphasis on instrumentals, Shaft still remains a powerful record; one of Hayes' pinnacle moments for sure. © Jason Birchmeier /TiVo
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Soul - Released July 1, 1969 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet
In May 1968 the label Stax lost the rights to its entire back catalog after splitting with the distributor Atlantic Records — bought by Warner — and only a few months before its famous artist Otis Redding and four of the six members of the Bar-Kays disappeared in a plane crash… In a desperate act to save the activity, its director, Al Bell, bet on Isaac Hayes giving him a second chance after the commercial flop of his first studio album. A successful gamble which restored some colour to Stax as Hot Buttered Soul sold more than a million copies. Recorded at the Ardent Studios in Memphis (Tennessee) and Tera Shirma Studios in Detroit (Michigan), Hot Buttered Soul is mainly an album of covers. Only the title Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic is co-credited to Isaac Hayes (and Alvertis Isbell). Isaac Hayes played Hammond organ and sang the vocals live while conducting the tracking band The Bar-Kays (reconstituted since the drama). The public discovered a modern music, very different from the standards of the time, which gave a new impulse to the soul. A major album of the genre remaining over time an indisputable reference of black American music. © Qobuz
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Soul - Released January 1, 1971 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet
The sheer tenacity -- albeit undeniably fitting -- of this double-disc set has made Black Moses (1971) one of Isaac Hayes' most revered and best-known works. The multi-instrumental singer/songwriter and producer had been a central figure in the Memphis soul music revolution of the mid-'60s. Along with Booker T. & the MG's, Hayes wrote and performed on more Stax sides than any other single artist. By the time of this release -- his fifth overall, and first two-record set -- Hayes had firmly established himself as a progressive soul artist. His stretched-out and well-developed R&B jams, as well as his husky-voiced sexy spoken "raps," became key components in his signature sound. Black Moses not only incorporates those leitmotifs, but also reaffirms Hayes abilities as an unmistakably original arranger. Although a majority of the album consists of cover material, all the scores have been reconfigured and adapted in such a fundamental way that, for some listeners, these renditions serve as definitive. This is certainly true of the extended reworkings of Jerry Butler's "Brand New Me" and Esther Phillips' "You're Love Is So Doggone Good" -- both of which are prefaced by the spoken prelude to coitus found in each respective installment of "Ike's Rap." The pair of Curtis Mayfield tunes -- "Man's Temptation" and "Need to Belong to Someone" -- are also worth noting for the layers of tastefully scored orchestration -- from both Hayes and his longtime associate Johnny Allen. The pair's efforts remain fresh and discerning, rather than the dated ersatz strings and horn sections that imitators were glutting the soul and pop charts and airwaves with in the mid-'70s. Hayes' own composition, "Good Love," recalls the upbeat and jive talkin' "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" from Hot Buttered Soul (1969), adding some spicy and sexy double-entendre in the chorus. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Soul - Released July 1, 1974 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet
This soundtrack was considerably lengthier and more varied than the one Hayes had released earlier in 1974 (Tough Guys), including Holiday Inn funk, a lugubrious vocal ("You're in My Arms Again"), and some jazz and blues riffs peppering the instrumental grooves. While the length ensured more variety, though, it also makes it a challenge to sit through the hour-plus program when you don't have images to fit the music. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Soul - Released March 1, 1974 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet
This 1974 soundtrack sounds pretty much like what you would expect -- period funk, mostly instrumental. It's much more effective as background to screen action than home listening, where it sounds like backing tracks in search of vocals, or incidental grooves that need much more flesh on their bones. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2009 | Stax

Released at the tail end of the '60s, Hot Buttered Soul set the precedent for how soul would evolve in the early '70s, simultaneously establishing Isaac Hayes and the Bar-Kays as major forces within black music. Though not quite as definitive as Black Moses or as well-known as Shaft, Hot Buttered Soul remains an undeniably seminal record; it stretched its songs far beyond the traditional three-to-four-minute industry norm, featured long instrumental stretches where the Bar-Kays stole the spotlight, and it introduced a new, iconic persona for soul with Hayes' tough yet sensual image. With the release of this album, Motown suddenly seemed manufactured and James Brown a bit too theatrical. Surprising many, the album features only four songs. The first, "Walk on By," is an epic 12-minute moment of true perfection, its trademark string-laden intro just dripping with syrupy sentiment, and the thumping mid-tempo drum beat and accompanying bassline instilling a complementary sense of nasty funk to the song; if that isn't enough to make it an amazing song, Hayes' almost painful performance brings yet more feeling to the song, with the guitar's heavy vibrato and the female background singers taking the song to even further heights. The following three songs aren't quite as stunning but are still no doubt impressive: "Hyperbolicsyllabicsequedalymistic" trades in sappy sentiment for straight-ahead funk, highlighted by a stomping piano halfway through the song; "One Woman" is the least epic moment, clocking in at only five minutes, but stands as a straightforward, well-executed love ballad; and finally, there's the infamous 18-minute "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and its lengthy monologue which slowly eases you toward the climactic, almost-orchestral finale, a beautiful way to end one of soul's timeless, landmark albums, the album that transformed Hayes into a lifelong icon. © Jason Birchmeier /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 1970 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet
Although this is Isaac Hayes' third long-player, he had long been a staple of the Memphis R&B scene -- primarily within the Stax coterie -- where his multiple talents included instrumentalist, arranger, and composer of some of the most beloved soul music of the '60s. Along with his primary collaborator, David Porter, Hayes was responsible for well over 200 sides -- including the genre-defining "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby," "Soul Man," "B-A-B-Y," "Hold On, I'm Comin'," and "I Had a Dream." As a solo artist however, Hayes redefined the role of the long-player with his inimitably smooth narrative style of covering classic pop and R&B tracks, many of which would spiral well over ten minutes. The Isaac Hayes Movement (1970) includes four extended cuts from several seemingly disparate sources, stylistically ranging from George Harrison's "Something" to Jerry Butler's "I Stand Accused" and even Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself." These early Hayes recordings brilliantly showcase his indomitable skills as an arranger -- as he places familiar themes into fresh contexts and perspectives. For example, his lengthy one-sided dialogue that prefaces "I Stand Accused" is halting in its candor as Hayes depicts an aching soul who longs for his best friend's fiancée. Even the most hard-hearted can't help but have sympathy pains as he unravels his sordid emotional agony and anguish. Hayes' lyrical orchestration totally reinvents the structure of "Something" -- which includes several extended instrumental sections -- incorporating equally expressive contributions from John Blair (violin). Both "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" and the comparatively short (at under six minutes) "One Big Unhappy Family" are more traditionally arranged ballads. Hayes again tastefully incorporates both string and horn sections to augment the languid rhythm, providing contrasting textures rather than gaudy adornment. These sides offer a difference between the proverbial "Black Moses of Soul" persona that would be responsible for the aggressive no-nonsense funk of Shaft (1971) and Truck Turner (1974). © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 1982 | Stax

One of the best-available Isaac Hayes compilation, Greatest Hit Singles bypasses a couple of his later disco hits, but the result is a more unified sound that helps illustrate why Hayes was so important to the development of '70s soul. Of course, a major part of his legacy consists of the epic-length suites that helped usher R&B into the album age, and that facet of his work is necessarily underrepresented here. But as a concise, easily digestible introduction to Hayes' work, Greatest Hit Singles is indispensable. Hayes may have been a master of mood and flow when he crafted his albums, but his innovative, slow-building style also lent itself to indulgence. Greatest Hit Singles presents just what the title suggests -- the single versions of these songs, which prune away Hayes' excesses and boil his core sound down to the bare essentials. Even if this doesn't capture the full scope of his talents, it still gives a sense of Hayes' genius as an arranger and the groundwork he laid for the R&B love-man archetype. There's only one of his trademark "raps" here, on "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," which is slimmed down to seven minutes. Everything else clocks in under five, which usually involves heavy editing. Oddly, for one of the most accomplished soul songwriters of the '60s, Hayes' solo hits tended to be covers; only four of the 12 tracks here are Hayes originals, and two of those were movie themes. His vision as a solo artist lay more in the elaborate presentation and, often, reimagination of his repertoire. If you want to experience the full-length versions, see Stax's two volumes of The Best of Isaac Hayes, or buy the original albums. But for a more concentrated dose of Hayes at his best, Greatest Hit Singles is hard to beat. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Soul - Released November 10, 2017 | Stax

Booklet
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Soul - Released December 18, 2015 | Stax

One of the better and more thoughtful Isaac Hayes compilations, Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It? is a three-disc (two CDs and one DVD) set that covers his years on Stax. There's a wide range of material here, from singles to deep album cuts, that provide a very representative look at these years, and Stax is even wise enough to include "I Stand Accused" and "Walk on By" in their full 12-minute versions. Only minor quibbles could be made with the selections. The third disc, a DVD, contains three songs performed by Hayes at Wattstax. And then there's the cherry -- er, some other spherical object -- on top: Hayes' performance of Chef's "Chocolate Salty Balls." © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 1970 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet
Released in late 1970 on the heels of two chart-topping albums, Hot Buttered Soul (1969) and The Isaac Hayes Movement (also 1970), Isaac Hayes and the Bar-Kays retain their successful approach on those landmark albums for To Be Continued, another number one album. Again, the album features four songs that span far beyond traditional radio-friendly length, featuring important mood-establishing instrumental segments just as emotive and striking as Hayes' crooning. Nothing here is quite as perfect as "Walk on By," and the album feels a bit churned out, but To Be Continued no doubt has its share of highlights, the most notable being "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." The album's most epic moment opens with light strings and horns, vamping poetically for several minutes before Hayes even utters a breath; then, once the singer delivers the song's orchestral chorus, the album hits its sentimental peak -- Hayes elevating a common standard to heavenly heights once again. Elsewhere, "Our Day Will Come" features a nice concluding instrumental segment driven by a proto-hip-hop beat that proves just how ahead of his time Hayes was during his early-'70s cycle of Enterprise albums. It's tempting to slight this album when holding it up against Hayes' best albums from this same era, but a comparison such as this is unfair. Even if Ike isn't doing anything here that he didn't do on his two preceding albums -- Hot Buttered Soul, The Isaac Hayes Movement -- and isn't quite as daring as he is on his two successive albums -- Black Moses, Shaft -- To Be Continued still topples any Hayes album that came after 1971. It didn't top the R&B album chart for 11 weeks on accident -- this is quintessential early-'70s Isaac Hayes, and that alone makes it a classic soul album. © Jason Birchmeier /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 1973 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet
You could expect Isaac Hayes to be in his element at a resort venue -- lounge soul was his forte, and this double album offers almost two hours of it. Hayes demonstrates his versatility by getting "Shaft" out of the way right off the bat and alternating between originals and covers of a wide range of tunes, including "Light My Fire," "Never Can Say Goodbye," "Rock Me Baby," "Stormy Monday Blues," "Feelin' Alright," and "It's Too Late" (yes, the Carole King song). Often these are linked together, of course, by Hayes' brotherly raps; for Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," he tests the limits, stretching the tune just past the ten-minute mark. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 1995 | Virgin Records

With about seven years of downtime on the recording front, Isaac Hayes burst to life again in 1995 with not one but two albums, released simultaneously with cover art that merges together when placed side by side. One was a collection of old demos and new instrumental tracks (Raw and Refined), but the other -- the disc at hand -- was a brand-new package hearkening back to Hayes' old extravagant ways. In a major attempt to restart his commercial engines, Hayes goes so far as to record in his original headquarters, Memphis, gathering around him many old cronies -- most notably his old writing partner from the Sam & Dave days, David Porter, and guitarists Michael Toles and Skip Pitts from the Stax period. Once again, Hayes attempts to transform well-known pop hits into wide-screen spectaculars, and he revisits tunes and ideas from his heyday. In a blatant imitation of the fold-out jacket of the original Black Moses LPs, the CD booklet even folds out in the shape of a cross. Yet there is a noticeable change in emphasis right at the start. "Fragile" begins with a rap that deals not with the usual Hayes topic of love gained or lost, but with a message about preserving the planet, and his treatment of Sting's song has a conga-driven momentum that ranks with many of Hayes' better extended rap/songs of the past. John Sebastian's "Summer in the City" is a tense amalgam of '70s funk and '90s digital synthesizers, a really effective update of the Hayes formula. But Hayes gets down to serious lovemaking business soon enough with new material like "Let Me Love You" and "I'll Do Anything (To Turn You On)." The Porter collaboration, "Thanks to the Fool," is a fine, humorous rap/song that picks up where "I Stand Accused" left off (this time, Ike gets the girl, albeit 25 years later!). The two golden oldies are handled in pointedly different ways. "Soulsville" (from the Shaft soundtrack) is almost unchanged from the original -- itself a comment that little has changed in the ghetto since 1971 -- while Chuck D. grafts a contemporary rap onto "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" -- which doesn't do much for the tune, but doesn't hurt either. Though it came too late for his heyday, and a bit soon for his comeback on the wings of the cable series South Park, this is actually one of Hayes' best albums -- and it holds up under repeated plays. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Joy

Soul - Released December 1, 1973 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet
With seven massive number one records trailing in his wake, Isaac Hayes donned his stylin', funky gold-chain link vest once again and capped 1973 with Joy, a set which might have proven the lucky-streak breaker -- it missed the top spot by one place -- but still waded into gold-record waters with ease. "Joy" itself, of course, was the album's crowning glory, a gargantuan 15-minute piece which essentially devoured side one of the album (the accompanying "I Love You That's All" is merely an afterthought). Heady, smoky, ubiquitous -- an instrumental and vocal foray into the land of good grooves -- it was sexy and sassy, with strings and innuendo stripped bare and smoothly built to lead anyone within earshot toward a classic climax. The song continued to impact via sampled revitalization from as far afield as TLC, Massive Attack, Eric B. & Rakim, and Big Daddy Kane. But don't forget that Joy is an entire album, with Hayes continuing his silky vocal assault across a further three slow, simmering songs. The best, and perhaps most interesting, is the closing "I'm Gonna Make It (Without You)." Markedly un-steamy, the song finds Hayes trading in his come-ons, choosing instead to open up and lay himself down in the wake of a broken romance. It's Joy's most touching moment, equally on par with the opener. Indeed, with those two glorious bookends, this album becomes a must-have for any '70s soul aficionado. © Amy Hanson /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 1980 | Polydor

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Hayes' late-'70s to early-'80s work with Polydor often gets forgotten, but even at its most mediocre, he changed with the times and it no doubt outstripped his last efforts for ABC. The success of 1978's Don't Let Go seemed to make the proceedings of this album more relaxed and confident. The ballads typify And Once Again more than anything else. Throughout most of the slow tracks here Hayes seems to be trying to attain a more thoughtful approach and seems to be reminiscent of his Black Moses era. His cover of "It's All in the Game" is slowed down a little bit and he gives a surprisingly impassioned vocal and an updated and deft arrangement. The entertaining "Ike's Rap VIII" has a glorious string arrangement and flows into a good cover of Angie Bofill's 1978 classic "This Time I'll Be Sweeter." Another ballad, "Wherever You Are" has an atmospheric and haunting melody that made up for the wobbly lyrics. The dance tracks here aren't great. Both "I Ain't Never" and "Love Has Been Good to Us" had rhythms and production values that were on the way out by the time this hit the shelves. Hayes seemed to give his best dance material for a production job with Linda Clifford. This effort didn't have an especially long chart run and was a chart disappointment in contrast to Don't Let Go. Although there is nothing groundbreaking here, the sound arrangements and Hayes' vocals make this more than worthwhile. © Jason Elias /TiVo
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Soul - Released May 19, 2017 | Stax

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Soul - Released January 1, 1975 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet
A fine mid-'70s album on which Isaac Hayes adapted to the disco era. His productions were already ideal for dance floors, and he now updated his charts to include some stomping segments with horns and layered beats, while maintaining his soulful vocals on both up-tempo tunes and ballads. This album got two Top 20 hits for Hayes and was his last really big hit album in the '70s. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 1979 | Polydor

Isaac Hayes' 1977-1982 stint on Polydor had him often doing strong work that differed from both his efforts at Enterprise and ABC. By the late '70s, Hayes had refined and updated his sound and stopped recording in Memphis. Although this album's predecessor, New Horizon, wasn't a big seller, it certainly helped him adapt to the changing musical landscape. In turn, Don't Let Go has Hayes even more confident and comfortable with his new sound. The title track has Roy Hamilton's jaunty classic all but unrecognizable with Hayes' propulsive and expert disco take. With pushy horns, cooing background girls, and his subdued vocal, he effortlessly attained disco's sense of fun. The song's insouciance seemed to rub off on the rest of this album. "What Does It Take" has Hayes steaming it up with help from a high-pitched bassline and a subtle buzzing guitar. On the best ballad here, the teasing "Few More Kisses to Go," Hayes plays the pathway to adulthood as waits for his "precious moment," singing "girl's gonna be a full-grown woman, before this night is through." The best tracks on this album have Hayes' infallible sense of melody, but there are a few duds. His disco version of "Fever" comes off a little desperate and pointless. The last track, "Someone Who Will Take the Place of You," is a good angry ballad, but clocking in at ten-and-a-half minutes, it's a little too much of a good thing. Don't Let Go is Hayes' most successful effort for Polydor. © Jason Elias /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2003 | Stax

Isaac Hayes was the final act on the Wattstax music festival bill. Although he was the headliner, prior to this collection only the medley of "Ain't No Sunshine"/"Lonely Avenue" had been made available on the soundtrack album. Over three decades on, this appropriately titled release features the entire Isaac Hayes at Wattstax (2003). The show was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 1972, and also included contributions from Eddie Floyd, the Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas and daughter Carla Thomas, as well as William Bell, Jimmy Jones, Albert King, and others. By the time Hayes hit the stage the crowd had swelled to over 112,000, and along with his righteously funkified Isaac Hayes Movement, the Black Moses of Soul delivers one bad mutha of an hour-plus set. After a spirited introduction from Rev. Jesse Jackson, the band leaps headlong into a note-perfect and hard-driving version of "Theme from Shaft" -- complete with orchestration conducted and scored by the terminally funky Onzie Horne, who would also work on Hayes' Live at the Sahara Tahoe (1973). Another Shaft soundtrack inclusion follows with the bleak social balladry of perpetual urban sprawl dubbed "Soulsville." The performance continues with a handful of the best tracks from Black Moses (1971) and includes a slinky and stirring reading of "Never Can Say Goodbye," which he dedicates to "all the lovers who quarrel...sometimes...all the time...and to the lovers who say they never quarrel at all." The fluid wah-wah fretwork of Charlie Pitts is complemented by Emerson Able's soaring flute and Gary Jones' laid-back conga inflections. Sadly, "Part Time Love" is presented sans lead vocals, as the master tapes are either missing or irreparably damaged. However, clearly audible in the appropriate locations are the female backing vocal trio known as Hot, Buttered and Soul. They also add counterpoint to Hayes' spoken introduction rap on the languid "Your Love Is So Doggone Good." While the centerpiece is undoubtedly the quarter-hour "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lonely Avenue" combo with a wailing sax solo from Hayes, not far behind is the tormented angst of "I Stand Accused." In terms of sheer emotion, it is hard to beat his wrenching vocals as he throws himself into the song to a degree not delivered on the Isaac Hayes Movement version. This disc concludes on an inspirational note as Rev. Jackson returns for a rousing invocation and prayer along with Jimmy Jones, who leads a gospel-fueled rendering of "If I Had a Hammer." © Lindsay Planer /TiVo

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Isaac Hayes in the magazine