LINER NOTES – ISAAC HAYES

isaac-hayesThe music industry lost a GIANT when Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr. passed away August 10, 2008; 5 years ago.  I chose to release this LINER NOTES article 5 years to the date of Isaac’s passing to commemorate the loss of such a tremendous talent and celebrate his wonderful contribution to the music.  Let’s talk about his life and reminisce while watching him perform live in the YOUTUBE videos I found because this man created some music for your soul… do you heah me?  JAM after JAM, Isaac Hayes kicked out the slammers that had vocal arrangements… including the background vocal arrangements… so tight, it would make a charging Rhino stop in his tracks and start doin’ a jig.  The music arrangements were so tight, they could make a mouse stop peein’ on cotton.  The 60’s and 70’s were an explosion of music experiences and SOUL Music was transforming all over the place.  There was Chicago’s sound spearheaded by Curtis Mayfield and Donny Hathaway, there was the Philly sound thanks to Gamble & Huff and Thom Bell, Ed Wingate of Golden World Records and Berry Gordy of Motown Records shaped the Motor City’s legendary sound and the incredible Memphis Sound presented to the world by Stax Records owners, Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton, and molded by a brotha’ by the name of Al Bell (real name, Alvertis Isbell).  Stax was aided and abetted by greats like guitarist extraordinaire, Steve Cropper (co-writer of “Sittin’ On The Dock of the Bay with Otis Redding), Booker T. & the MG’s (“Green Onions”) and the songwriting/producing team of Isaac Hayes & David PorterHayes & Porter wrote Sam & Dave’s biggest hits:  “You Don’t Know Like I Know” (’66), “Hold On, I’m Comin’” (’66), “When Something’s Wrong With My Baby” (’66), “Soul Man” (’67) and “I Thank You” (’68).  They also wrote, “B-A-B-Y” for Carla Thomas (’66), “Show Me How” by the Emotions (’72), “Your Good Thing (Is About To End)” for Mable John (Little Willie John’s sister) in ’66 and Lou Rawls re-made the song in ’69 and the classic Soul Children hit, “The Sweeter He Is” (’69).  Isaac Hayes and David Porter were a dynamic songwriting and producing teamone of the best ever.  They really don’t get the credit they deserve given the contributions they made but I think Isaac’s later work as a solo artist overshadowed his earlier work in the minds of the media but these kinds of accomplishments should not be overlooked or forgotten.  Let’s start off the videos with the shortened version of the 11 minutes and 30 second classic that was written by the “Iceman,” Jerry Butler and his younger brother, Billy Butler (remember his song, “I Don’t Want To Lose You?”).  This is Isaac Hayes in a live performance of, “I Stand Accused.”      

posted by brownboykb

When I went to see Isaac Hayes (probably at the Fox Theatre in Detroit) at the height of his solo career, I remember how sharply dressed the audience was.  I mean, sistas were decked out in their shiniest goin’-out-on-the-town dresses and the dudes sported walkin’ suits a’plenty… must’ve bought those lime green and banana yellow walkin’ suits at “Walkin’ Suits R Us.”  I was in my blue jeans, as usual… but I was being ridiculed for being, “underdressed.”  I don’t know what Isaac Hayes was getting for that concert but I’m sure it was more than my year’s salary at the time.  So, anyway, from the darkness, Isaac walks onto the stage in some sunglasses, black spandex stretch pants and a gold window pane chain shirt.  The dude who was getting paid to be here… was wearing black tights and some chains… to which I declared, “Correction, Isaac Hayes is the most underdressed person here.”  My wardrobe choices were never questioned again.  Oh, he did get off that night, especially as he conducted the orchestra on this one.  This is, “The Theme From Shaft.”

posted by shacoustic

In ’72 Isaac composed the theme song for the TV show, The Men but before that in ’71, he hit it really, really big with his soundtrack for the movie, Shaft.  How big did he hit it, you ask?  He hit it so big he won a Best Original Song Oscar for, “Theme From Shaft.”  Ernest Tidyman and John D.F. Black wrote the Shaft script.  Ernest also wrote scripts for the classic films, The French Connection and High Plains Drifter and John penned the movie, Trouble Man and tons of episodes for TV shows like Murder She Wrote, Charlie’s Angels, Star Trek, Mission Impossible and The Bill Cosby ShowRichard Roundtree was absolutely perfect as John Shaft and famed photographer, writer and director, the great Gordon Parks (The Learning Tree) directed the flick.  When you put those credentials together in a project, there’s no way you can call Shaft a Blaxploitation Film as many chose to do; it just happened to be released in the Baxploitation Film era.  Anything non-actors like Rudy Ray Moore was in… now that’s Blaxploitation.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved most of the Blaxploitation Films I saw back then… including the Rudy Ray Moore flicks… but Shaft was a Classic-In-The-Making… a straight up GREAT movie.  Remember, that was a time in our history we were excited to finally see Black actors on screen as something other than domestic servants… they were heroes, bad guys, professionals and more importantly, they were playing the leading roles.  So I overlooked a lot of the poor quality of the Blaxploitation films, which were typically under budgeted… it was a necessary giant step on our way to films of today starring Denzel, Samuel Jackson, Angela Bassett, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Don Cheadle, Blair Underwood, Viola Davis, Forrest Whitaker and the likes.  Shaft stood out in the crowd as the clear forerunner to the future… which is NOW.  My favorite song from the Shaft Soundtrack was the lyrically slick and soulfully produced portrait of Black Ghetto life, “Soulsville.”

posted by vn12000

Seriously, Clifton Davis… the one who played the preacher, Reuben, on the TV series Amen… yes, that Clifton Davis wrote the Jackson 5 classic, “Never Can Say Goodbye.”  In the same year Isaac released the Shaft Soundtrack, he also unleashed his Black Moses double album.  Man, that’s a lotta golden music being released in 1971.  Ol’ Ike didn’t stop with “Never Can Say Goodbye,” this album also gave us other classic remakes: “(They Long To Be) Close To You” (Carpenters), “Need To Belong To Someone” (the Impressions), “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” (Dionne Warwick) and “Your Love Is So Doggone Good” (the Whispers).  Here’s Ike singing, “Never Can Say Goodbye” live at Montreux Jazz Fest.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWNfFsCrJOI

posted by yohea16

I never understood why Isaac’s songwriting partner, David Porter, didn’t achieve similar solo artist success as Isaac did.  David was a ba-a-a-ad boy!  He did get some recognition for his lengthy orchestral songs, “Hang On Sloopy (’71)” and “I’m Afraid The Masquerade Is Over (’71),” which sounded musically similar to Isaac’s arrangements because they came from the same camp.  And David’s voice was truly dynamic and sexy as exemplified on songs like, “Ooh Wee Girl (’71),” “I Can’t See You When I Want To (’70)” and the Stevie Wonder re-make, “I Don’t Know Why I Love You (’70).”  I still listen to David Porter songs on my CD Playlist in the car and on my computer.  I wish more folk would turn on to this amazing artist; you won’t be sorry and I’m sure you’ll be as surprised as I am that he didn’t become a household name.  Other associates with Isaac Hayes that are absolutely worth a mention are his background singers, Hot, Buttered & SoulIsaac formed this group in 1969 to embellish his records for his solo career.  Named after his second release, which was his first successful album, Hot, Buttered & Soul were made up of Detroiters and sisters Pat and Diane Lewis & Rose Williams (later Barbara McCoy joined).  Pat Lewis, a recording artist for Golden World Records, arranged the background vocals often.  Hot, Buttered & Soul were Isaac Hayes’ personal equivalents to Motown’s backing vocalists, The Andantes, whom Pat Lewis also sang with for a time.  The History… Man!  Well, let’s check out a live performance of the song that lasted 12 minutes on the… speaking of which… Hot Buttered Soul LP from 1969.  That’s nothing compared to “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” on the same album which ran for 18 minutes, 40 seconds.  Wow!  Anyway, the 12 minute joint (though he performs for way less than 12 minutes here) is the re-make of Dionne Warwick’s signature song, “Walk On By.”

posted by oifnolykouf

Lengthy album cuts became Isaac Hayes’ signature.  He had 14 songs on the Black Moses double album but typically you would only find 4 or 5 cuts on an early Isaac Hayes LP.  Surprisingly, the longest track Isaac recorded in the prime of his success, from ‘69’s Hot Buttered Soul to ‘79’s Don’t Let Go albums, was the 19 minute and 38 second Psychedelic Soul classic, “Do Your Thing,” found on the 1971 Shaft Soundtrack album.  Even though this soundtrack album has 15 tracks, lots of them are 1 to 4 minute long transitional pieces for the film.  The instrumentation in this mostly instrumental song begins just over 2 minutes in.  Well, this is a much shorter live performance version we have for you.  Check out Isaac Hayes & company at the 2002 Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts in England featuring the scatting vocals of Rhonda Thomas.

posted by soulbrotherjimmy

In 1974 Isaac Hayes formed Hot Buttered Soul (HBS) Records.  In ‘79 he co-wrote the Dionne Warwick hit, “Déjà Vu,” with Adrienne Anderson“Déjà Vu” went on to reach # 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts and # 15 in Billboard’s Hot 100.  The song won Dionne a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female in 1980.  Isaac acted in scores of films and TV shows like, Truck Turner, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Rockford Files and more recently, the movie Hustle & Flow with Terrence Howard.  He performed the Voice Characterization for the character, Chef, on the irreverent South Park animated series.  In 2002, Isaac and his ol’ songwriting partner, David Porter, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  He fathered 11 children throughout 4 marriages so his legacy is in good shape.  Regardless of the accomplishments, when God calls us home, we gots to go.  Isaac passed away from a stroke on August 10, 2008.  This man did all you could do in the field of music… he achieved more than most… he is one of the GREATEST to ever sit down to a keyboard or step to a microphone or pen a tune or arrange a song or produce a record… not many will fill his GIANT footprints.  Thank you, ISAAC LEE HAYES, JR., for the many, many wonderful musical memories.  Rest In Total Peace!

Yours musically,
Reuben Yabuku

posted by MoondogMayne