Isaac Hayes,
" Hot Buttered Soul"

Blueswax 9
Rating 8

The First Classic Rock-Soul Crossover Recording, (09/02/09)

Isaac Hayes' classic Hot Buttered Soul was originally released in 1969, and from my recollection was one of the first black soul records that crossed over on to FM rock radio. My soul brother Ray Bell hipped me to it, and this LP immediately floored me way back then and still does some forty years later. A short history: Isaac Hayes was already well established as a songwriter and producer for Stax Records but never had the spotlight. Given the green light to step out, Hayes leaped to the forefront on his maiden voyage. The album sold more than a million copies and ran up the Billboard charts' top ten. Who can forget the opening bars to Burt Bacharach's "Walk On By" first made famous by Dionne Warwick, but Hayes totally rearranged and vastly expanded the original take (12:03), adding strings and outstanding musicians that ultimately took "Walk On By" to another level.

Hayes added similar effects to another previously recorded smash hit Jim Webb's "By the Time I Get To Phoenix" that Glen Campbell had enormous success with, yet somehow Isaac makes it pure soul, and it's so romantic and downright sexy, too. The ten-minute introduction is immensely unique if perhaps a bit long on multiple listens, but when the plot thickens you almost feel like you too made that long journey to Phoenix, and wanted to!

The original Hot Buttered Soul only had four particularly lengthy tracks and interestingly only had one Hayes penned tune, the oddly titled "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic." But this is a killing funk track that burns from end to end. The only unfortunate thing about this edition of Hot Buttered Soul is that the two "bonus" tracks are just edited versions of "Walk On By" and "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" which are great for radio DJs but shouldn't be construed as bonus additions. Still, I have to think, how cool it would have been to have some other songs (or instrumental jams) culled from these historic sessions. Oh, well.

Hot Buttered Soul exemplifies what a true original Isaac was and went on to be. He immediately stamped his individuality as one of the first who mixed horns, strings, and fuzzed out guitars, making previous hits all over again into chart busting successes. And thinking about it, Hayes was also the first kind of sort of, soul jam-band pioneers, too.

Bob Putignano: