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  Isaac Hayes 

Click below for an Isaac Hayes sample: 



The creator of baroque soul, Isaac Hayes helped transform soul music from a singles-oriented medium to one where albums were more than a collection of hits and filler.  His epic compositions frequently topped ten minutes in length, and his arrangements and choice of material opened new possibilities for soul.


Prior to establishing his solo career, Hayes was part of a songwriting team with David Porter, where he co-wrote and produced such classics as “Soul Man,” “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby,” and “Hold On I’m Coming” for Sam and Dave.  Among their 200 writing credits are tunes for Johnnie Taylor, Margie Joseph, and Carla Thomas.


In 1967, he recorded his debut album, Presenting Isaac Hayes, but that was a largely rambling jazzy affair that was recorded in a party atmosphere. It did not chart, but thanks to a new recording and distribution deal signed by Stax, where they had to record thirty albums in a short period of time via a number of subsidiaries, he received another opportunity to record the album that would change the course of music.


A heavily arranged opus of a record issued on the Enterprise imprint, Hot Buttered Soul consisted of only four tunes, a far cry from the twelve to fourteen track albums that were then the norm.  Most shocking to people was his eighteen-minute revamping of “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” which was edited to around seven minutes for single release.  Putting an entirely new twist on the pop chestnut, Hayes imbued the song with a bluesman’s sense of worry, setting up the lyric with a lengthy spoken intro describing the tribulations of a man who has been done wrong by his woman. Southern soul artists had frequently drawn upon other genres for material, but none had ever completely refashioned it in the manner Hayes demonstrated.  He also applied a similar treatment to Bacharach-David’s “Walk On By,” turning Dionne Warwick’s harmless pop ditty into a funky twelve-minute tour de force, complete with screaming guitars and sweeping orchestration. And “Hyperbolicsyllabicsequedalymistic" was a Hayes original with lyrics that many people had difficulty comprehending, but a groove that was irresistible. In addition, the cover photo displayed Hayes’ bald head and array of gold chains, presenting a stark new image of black masculinity than the typical clean-cut and suited up model of Motown.


Listeners had never heard or seen anything like this before, and accordingly the album was a sensation, crossing over to the pop and jazz charts in addition to topping the soul listings.  Along with Sly and the Family Stone’s Stand, Hot Buttered Soul proved soul had matured as an artistic/creative force.  With Stax looking for a flagship artist in the wake of Otis Redding’s death, Hayes was immediately thrust into a leadership role, which was slightly ironic since his backing band was the reconstituted Bar Kays, most of whom had died with Redding.


Hayes followed up on his newfound success with two 1970 albums, To Be Continued and Isaac Hayes Movement, named after the new title he had given his band. These  records mined much the same territory as HBS, breaking no new ground but providing fresh interpretations of “Our Day Will Come,” “Something,” “I Stand Accused,” and “The Look Of Love.”   To Be Continued also contained “Ike’s Rap I,” the first of his ongoing series of songs that marked him as an originator of rap.


Maintaining his workaholic pace, 1971 consolidated his superstar status thanks to the double-barreled attack of Black Moses and the soundtrack to Shaft, an ordinary private-eye flick refashioned into an early blaxploitation film thanks to the success of Sweet Sweetback.  The driving title tune, with insistent hi-hats and pulsating rhythm overlaid with a bed of strings, was another breakthrough for Hayes, this time as a major influence on disco.  The song was rewarded with an Oscar for best score, a first for a black artist.  Black Moses, taken from Hayes’ nickname, was a double album featuring his arranging skills applied to the widest variety of material he had yet attempted, ranging from the Jackson Five (“Never Can Say Goodbye”) and Jerry Butler (“Never Gonna Give You Up) to the Carpenters (“They Long To Be Close To You”) and Kris Kristofferson (“For The Good Times”) and his own “Ike’s Rap II” and “III.”


Following a triumphant appearance at the Wattstax festival, the next releases were another double album, Live At the Sahara Tahoe, and Joy.  He then began indulging his taste for Hollywood, producing the soundtracks to Tough Guys and Truck Turner, which he also starred in.


By 1975, Stax was in serious financial trouble, and Hayes formed his own label, Hot Buttered Soul, which was distributed by ABC.  He came out hitting with Chocolate Chip and Disco Connection, where he fully embraced the clubs with the classic “I Can’t Turn Around” and “Disco Connection.” Groove A Thon and Juicy Fruit were solid efforts, but didn’t sell as well as his early efforts, and Hayes closed the label and declared bankruptcy in 1976.


Moving to Polydor, Hayes returned to the charts via duet albums with Dionne Warwick (A Man And A Woman) and Millie Jackson (Royal Rappin’s). His biggest singles of the era were the dancefloor classic “Zeke The Freak,” “Out of the Ghetto,” and “Don’t Let Go.”


Through the 1980s, Hayes spent more time on Hollywood sets than in recording studios, with roles Escape From New York, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Miami Vice and the A Team.  A stint with Columbia generated minor action, but his recordings for Point Blank/Virgin in 1995 were more highly praised, reflecting his now universal acknowledgement as an innovator.  He was best known to younger generations as the voice of Chef of South Park, but he left that show under controversial circumstances in 2005.


He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

of the many acts that recorded 

Isaac Hayes' Deepest Grooves

Presenting Isaac Hayes (Enterprise, 1967)

This was reissued as In The Beginning in 1973 to capitalize on his popularity.


Hot Buttered Soul (Enterprise, 1969) Be Continued
(Enterprise, 1970)

The Isaac Hayes Movement
(Enterprise, 1970)

Black Moses
(Enterprise, 1971)

Shaft (Enterprise, 1971)


Joy (Enterprise, 1973)

Live at the Sahara Tahoe (Enterprise, 1973)

Tough Guys (Enterprise, 1974)

Truck Turner (Enterprise, 1974)

Chocolate Chip
(Hot Buttered Soul/ABC, 1975)  

Disco Connection
(Hot Buttered Soul/ABC, 1976)

(ABC, 1976)

A Man and Woman (Polydor, 1977)

New Horizon (Polydor, 1977)

For the Sake of Love (Polydor, 1978)

Hotbed (Polydor, 1978)

Don't Let Go (Polydor, 1979)

And Once Again (Polydor, 1980)

Royal Rappin's (Polydor, 1980)

Lifetime Thing (Polydor, 1981)

U-Turn (Columbia, 1986)

Love Attack (Columbia, 1988)

Branded (Virgin, 1995)

Raw and Refined
(Virgin, 1995)

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