Precious, Precious/When I Fall In Love/Medley: I Just Want To Make Love To You/Rock Me Baby/Medley: Going To Chicago Blues/Misty/You Don't Know Like I Know
This was Isaac Hayes' first album and was recorded, apparently, to appease the head of Stax Records. Hayes had previously been a major songwriter for the label. I am not sure why he was put under pressure to record the album, but he was, and, together with three members of Booker T. & The MGs, they cobbled together an album. In doing so, Hayes almost inadvertently developed the style of recording extended, slow soul versions of existing songs, upon which he would base his solo career over the next ten years or so. It was a five track album, again something that would become the norm for Hayes. Stylistically, though, this was very much a jazz album, as opposed to a soul one. Jazz piano is the dominant sound.
Now we get three lengthy numbers. Medley: I Just Want To Make Love To You/Rock Me Baby is done in a laid-back jazzy style. As opposed to Hayes' subsequent extended grooves, which were orchestrated soul with funky influences, this is very jazzy. I have to say, though, that the vocal is often a bit slurred, and it sounds a bit as if Isaac has been on the Bourbon and is doing it as a big mickey-take. The story is that Hayes and the band were considerably "under the influence" after a party when they recorded this. That does not surprise me. Maybe some would disagree and claim it as a piece of classic soul improvisation. I can certainly say that for any of Hayes' following albums, but, unfortunately not for this one. The speeded-up bit at the end, though, is an improvement.
You Don't Know Like I Know is a jaunty piece of piano jazz that is a pleasant listen (probably because there are no vocals). Sorry Isaac, you were great on all the albums that came along after 1969's iconic Hot Buttered Soul, but this one just doesn't do it for me. As I said before, though, musically, it is very impressive. Actually, a couple of listens in and it starts to grow on you, but it clearly is an inferior piece of work to all his later, superb offerings.
Walk On By/Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymystic/One Woman/By The Time I Get To Phoenix
This was Isaac Hayes' second album. His first, Presenting Isaac Hayes had not been much of a success and, apparently, he demanded free reign from Stax Records to do what he wanted on this album. He sure did that. In 1969, albums featuring only four tracks of lengthy soul workouts were not exactly de riguer. In so many ways, this album blazed a new trail. Barry White was still four years away from doing similar material. The album showed that soul could be coal-mine deep, drawn-out, dramatic, funky and passionate. Hayes suddenly had a new persona - the cool, growling-voiced but sensuous loverman. Soul music changed with this release, not as obviously as with What's Going On or Curtis - maybe, in that it carried no social message - but certainly stylistically.
Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic. This tongue-twisting titled number is superbly funky - full to the brim with big, fatback bass, thumping drums, clunking piano, seductive backing vocals and Isaac grunting here and there. It gets into its groove and just keeps going, marvellously. It also, clearly, qualifies as one of the longest song titles and one of the most non-sensical.
One Woman is a delicious slice of "come over here honey" soul. The original recording always had a scratchy bit at about 2:50 seconds. Even the remastered version I now have has not failed to eliminate this. No real matter though, when Isaac and his backing singers trade off vocal pyrotechnics as the song reaches its glorious denouement.
By The Time We Get To Phoenix was written by Jimmy Webb, made famous by Glen Campbell, this is the album's tour de force. It is over eighteen minutes long and features an extended preacher-style spoken introduction from Hayes telling us all about the song's protagonist's back story to the song. A subtle bass rumbles as Hayes narrates until over the eight and a half minute mark. At that point he soulfully and effortlessly leads into the song. The song reaches a climax with some excellent horn backing and the band gets louder and louder. There is, of course, a case for it being just too damn long. That applies to many tracks on many Hayes albums. I can accept that to an extent, but on the other hand, those bloated, extended workouts were the albums' selling points.
Anyway, this is a highly recommended album.
I Stand Accused/One Big Unhappy Family/I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself/Something
Coming not long after the unique, ground-breaking four-track album that was Hot Buttered Soul, Isaac Hayes released another one. It was similarly impressive. He had really hit on something here. He was taking soul music to another level.
The cynically-titled One Big Unhappy Family is a big, Stax-y soul number with a yearning, heart-broken vocal from Hayes.
Overall, I prefer Hot Buttered Soul, but this is not without is good points, particularly the first two tracks.
Monologue: Ike's Rap 1/Our Day Will Come/The Look Of Love/Monologue: Ike's Mood/You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling/Runnin' Out Of Fools
This was Isaac Hayes's fourth studio album It followed again what was now a familiar path of lengthy soul workouts over sumptuous backing provided by the immaculate Bar-Kays. It was now the thing to do for Isaac Hayes - to issue soul albums with just a few long tracks on them. It really was ground-breaking. Nobody else was doing such a thing. Even The Undisputed Truth had a few shorter tracks alongside their epic numbers.
The eleven minute cover of Bacharach-David's The Look Of Love is just glorious. Backed with wonderful strings and horns, it is packed with classic soul atmosphere. Once more, Hayes's vocal is seriously underrated. He was rarely spoken of as a great vocalist, but he shows great versatility on all these early seventies albums. The track also has a winning funky-ish instrumental break half way through, with delicious percussion, guitar and organ. Some punchy brass is joined by a funky wah-wah guitar before we get some blaxploitation soundtrack evocative parts to end with.
Monologue: Ike's Mood/You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling is a fifteen-minute masterpiece that builds up slowly with some seductive orchestration and backing vocals. It is a long time before Hayes sings. Over six minutes before he launches into the well-known opening lines of The Righteous Brothers' anthem. Hayes's delivery suits the drama of the song.
Runnin' Out Of Fools is another slow burner with Isaac soulfully singing over a gospelly backing vocal.
Not as essential an album as Hot Buttered Soul or Black Moses, but a ground-breaking and enjoyable album all the same.
Theme From Shaft/Bumpy's Lament/Walk From Regio's/Ellie's Love Theme/Shaft's Cab Ride/Cafe Regio's/Early Sunday Morning/Be Yourself/A Friend's Place/Soulsville/No Name Bar/Bumpy's Blues/Shaft Strikes Again/Do Your Thing/The End Theme
This is the best known of several "Blaxploitation" movie soundtracks from the early/mid seventies and, despite its emphasis, particularly at the beginning of the album, on some mainly short-ish instrumental interludes from the movie, they are very good ones. So much so that they never really feel like background music. The instrumentation and musicianship from The Bar-Kays, under the direction of Hayes, is top notch and the sound quality excellent. The good thing about this album is that whereas some soundtrack albums are often not an easy listen without the movie to watch at the same time, this one has the music standing alone. You find that you can listen to it quite easily, treating it as an instrumental album. It was initially released as a double album and despite its lack of vocal tracks, proved a good seller. Listening to it, you can understand why. It is a truly excellent piece of work.
Walk From Regio's, although short, has some excellent percussion as does Bumpy's Lament, while the sweeping strings of Ellie's Love Theme, enhanced by vibes, provide a jazzy, romantic piece.
We eventually get a vocal number in the glorious soul of Soulsville, with Hayes contributing a lovely, warm, deep vocal. It is simply a wonderful track.
The album's tour de force is a vocal number, the gargantuan, nineteen-minute Do Your Thing. Isaac Hayes at his very best. Some of the funky, brassy breaks on here are addictive, particularly when they merge with that searing guitar. Yes, it probably goes on a bit too long, but the interplay around twelve and a half minutes is magnificent. The last couple of minutes are unfortunately made up of unnecessary guitar feedback. The End Theme reprises that classic riff from the opener.
This is one of the best soundtrack albums of all time, maybe the best. It never, ever gets tiresome and is instrumentally perfect. I love it and I am not any sort of soundtracks aficionado. It is so evocative of seventies New York. Highly recommended.
Title Theme/Randolph & Dearborn/The Red Rooster/Joe Bell/Hung Up On My Baby/Kidnapped/Run Fay Run/Buns O’ Plenty/The End Theme
Highlights :- Title Theme, Hung Up On My Baby, Randolph & Dearborn, Run Fay Run
Never Can Say Goodbye/(They Long To Be) Close To You/Nothing Takes The Place Of You/Man's Temptation/Part-Time Love/Medley: Ike's Rap IV/ A Brand New Me/Going In Circles/Never Gonna Give You Up/Medley: Ike's Rap II/Help Me Love/Need To Belong To Someone/Good Love 6-9-9-6-9/Medley: Ike's Rap III/Your Love Is So Doggone/For The Good Times/I'll Never Fall In Love Again
After the extended soul grooves, often of easy listening or other soul standards, on Hot Buttered Soul and ...To Be Continued, and the iconic movie soundtrack Shaft, Isaac Hayes gave us this, his first double album. Basically, it was more of the same - lengthy, seductive soulful workouts immaculately played by The Bar-Kays and topped off with Hayes's deep, but honeyed vocals. The album is full of serious soul and funk. It doesn't have the social message of Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield's material, or that of The Temptations or The Undisputed Truth, for that matter. What it has is love - big, late-night love. Without this as an inspiration, would there have been any Barry White sensual, semi-spoken "lay down on the couch, honey" numbers? Hayes wrote the book of "loverman" cliches with this. That is not to say that it is not seriously soulful, though. It is chock full of deep soul.
Regarding its cultural effect - this was a soul artist putting out a very credible, uncommercial double album. Stuff like this really provided a landmark in the development of soul/black music.
Part-Time Love is so deliciously funky. It has an almost reggae-like intro and some infectious percussion. It is another eight minute groove. This album was also notable for its three spoken "raps", which featured Hayes speaking a long, yearning intro over a subtle bass/keyboard backing before eventually launching into the song that is linked with each rap. The intros are very much in the style of the songs Barry White would specialise in just a few years later. His songs were more string orchestrated, though. Hayes's are more purely soulful in their bass, piano and drum backing. Strings are used, and brass too, but it that slow seductive bass rhythm that underpins the material.
Going in Circles has that distinctive orchestration and guitar interjection sound that so characterised Walk On By on Hot Buttered Soul.
There is no doubt that this is a special album, although you only need to dip into a few tracks at a time to appreciate them as a whole sitting of the entire double album is just a little bit like eating too much sticky toffee pudding. Having said that, it does make you want to keep coming back for more.
Joy/I Love You That's All/A Man Will Be A Man/The Feeling Keeps On Coming/I'm Gonna Make It (Without You)
Isaac Hayes stared the early seventies trend for lengthy, smoochy, late-night soul workouts that was continued by Barry White. Hayes often took established classics, either soul songs or easy-listening Burt Bacharach/Hal David numbers, slowing them down and giving them the whole orchestrated soul treatment. By 1973, he had released four albums in this style (not counting his debut or the Shaft soundtrack). This would be the last one specifically like this (only five tracks). Later ones would see a few more tracks per album and lengths of around six minutes as opposed to twelve, fifteen or eighteen. By 1977, Hayes had caught on to the disco thang, man. So, this is the sort of end of a mini-era. Notably, there are no covers on here, they are all Hayes originals. Deep, seductive soul is the order of the day, too, as opposed to dramatic, orchestrated numbers. Special mention goes out for the gold chain string vest as modelled on the rear cover. Did he really think that was a cool look? Maybe he did.
I Love You That's All starts with a cheesy spoken bit between Isaac and a female lover as he pours her some champagne, complete with bubbles and slurpuing noises. Two minutes it lasts. When the music arrives it is unsurprisingly, full of growled, whispering spoken vocals over a gentle beat and romantic strings. All good turn down the lights fare. A few orgasmic noises arrive to see the track to its climax, so to speak. Job done, Isaac. It was quite de rigeur to have female pleasure in the background in mid-seventies soul records. Major Harris's Love Won't Let Me Wait and Donna Summer's Love To Love You Baby spring to mind. I sort of miss those shameless seduction numbers.
A Man Will Be A Man is another in the deep, sensual soul mode. It is a slow pace, warm ballad. The Feeling Keeps Coming is a sublime piece of intense funky soul with a captivating, slow bassy beat.
Overall, this is probably my favourite of the great early seventies Isaac Hayes "stretched-out soul" albums.
Ike's Plea/Life's Mood/Fragile/Life's Mood II/Summer In The City/Let Me Love You/I'll Do Anything To Turn You On/Thanks To The Fool/Branded/Soulsville/Hyperbolicsyllabisesquedalymystic
A ”comeback” album some twenty-five years or so after his recording peak, this is a nice mix of funk and "let’s get it on baby" seduction fare.
Life’s Mood is a delicious funk ‘n’ strings instrumental - bass, brass, wah-wah and sweeping strings. It merges seamlessly into a sublime, soulful cover of Sting’s Fragile. The rhythmic instrumental vibe continues into Life’s Mood II. All sumptuous, classy stuff. It is the best passage of tracks on the album.
Summer In The City is a typically funky Hayes cover of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s sixties song. Wah-wahs to the fore. Time to head for the bedroom, maybe?
Let Me Love You does the lurrvin’ business, Barry White-style, complete with loverman spoken vocal. In fact it never gets above whispering pace throughout the song. “Let me traverse your peaks and valleys” growls Isaac. “Let me give you the ride of your life”. Indeed.
Slow funk is back on the tough grind but still seductive I’ll Do Anything To Turn You On. Thanks To The Fool is another Barry White-esque semi-spoken growler of a confessional track.
It is time Isaac upped the beat a bit and he does it on the attractively funky Branded. The track acts as a bit of an antidote to all that breathy bedroom fare. It features a great bit of wah-wah, drum and saxophone interplay in the middle too.
The last two tracks are re-workings of old tracks - the gospelly Soulsville and the extended, bassy funk of Hyper.... which adds a contemporary rap but is as good as it ever was. Check out the break in the middle, great stuff.
A good funk ‘n’ smooch album, this one.
* Hayes is pictured here with Ian McShane in the 1995 TV movie, Soul Survivors.