eMusic Review 0
The kids might know him best as Chef from South Park, but back in the day Isaac Hayes reigned as Black Moses: a sexy soul daddy with a mellifluous basso profundo. A former staff writer (with ex-partner David Porter) for the legendary R&B label Stax, Hayes went solo in the '70s, and with his glistening shaved head, bare chest wrapped in chains and plush and heavily orchestrated tracks, he electrified audiences. On vinyl Hayes was no joke either, and his musicianship and deliberately badass delivery (somewhere a young Samuel L. Jackson was listening to the wah-wah guitars and take-no-prisoners vibe of "Shaft" and taking notes) elevated Top 40 hits into epics of plush, pimpadelic proportions.
In Hayes' hands, Burt Bacharach's longing "Walk On By" becomes a mournful, moody, string-laden manifesto. Equally cinematic is Hayes' monumental reworking of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," which, thanks to a classic, slow-burning spoken-word intro, is transformed from a wistful, gentle love song to something approaching an autobiographical opus that all but vibrates with passion. Even a relatively lighthearted take on Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" is laced with a determined drama that, like most of Hayes' music, puts the x in extra.