Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul – Craft Recordings

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Beyond special – Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul, the DELUXE version…

Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul (Small Batch Vinyl Series) – Craft/Stax/Concord Records – Hand Numbered 180 gm audiophile vinyl release – 1969 – *****

(Isaac Hayes – Hammond organ, vocals, conductor; Bar Kays: James Alexander – bass, Michael Toles – electric guitar, Willie Hall – drums; Marvell Thomas – piano; with unknown strings and brass section and background vocals)

The boutique audiophile label, Craft Recordings have gone “all-in” on their latest Small Batch Vinyl Series release. They are bringing back a seminal 1969,  Isaac Hayes LP, Hot Buttered Soul, from Stax Records. It was evolutionary at the time, moving from traditional soul music (i.e. James Brown) to a psychedelic rock influence, but adding sensuality with full strings with orchestral backing. 

In 1969, Stax Records had just lost one of their primary artists, Otis Redding, along with their backing group, The Bar Kays, in a tragic plane crash. In addition, they had to relinquish their publishing rights in a dispute with Atlantic Records. They were in financial straits and needed immediate help. Their executive, Al Bell, turned to one of their song writer/producers, Isaac Hayes, who at that time had not broken out as a singer.

Hayes’ inspiration was unique at that time. In an era of under five minute singles, Isaac, using a reformed Bar Kays backing band, recorded a four track album. Only one song was standard length (“One Woman”), and Hayes utilized lush expanded strings and brass to flesh out a new genre, merging psychedelic rock rhythms, along with Hammond organ, using lush backgrounds. 

What was even more striking was the selection of pop hits (Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By,” and Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,”) as the two extended tracks, 12:00 and 18:44 respectively.  Who would have thought that these two pop standards would be break-out discoveries with Stax Records fans? The album hit on all cylinders at the time reaching #8 on the Pop charts, and #1 on both R& B and Jazz rankings.

Now over a half century later, a whole new audience can appreciate this classic album, but now the pot is much sweeter. In one-step all analog mastering, and limited to numbered 3000 issues, the acoustics are magnificent. Isaac’s Hammond organ, and Michael Toles’ rock influenced guitar riffs are on full display, as are the resplendent strings and mighty brass accompaniment. Adding to the acoustics is the beyond deluxe packaging:

the vinyl is encased in a foil stamped linen wrapped slipcase with an acrylic inset of the original artwork. First class all the way…

Whether it is the twelve minute version of “Walk on By,” a languid soulful strut; the wacky “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic,” likely the longest single word title in existence; the five minute “One Woman,” the ultimate test between choosing a wife over a mistress; or the near nineteen minute, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” with its eight minute spoken introduction on “the power of love,” Isaac Hayes was way ahead of the game. It’s an early disco Barry White meeting rock guitar with a side of “pre-rap” along for good measure.

And the fit for a king packaging just helps seal the deal. With only 3000 copies being pressed, don’t be late…

—Jeff Krow

Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul

Side A:
Walk on By (12:00)
Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic (9:37)

Side B:
One Woman (5:09)
By the Time I Get to Phoenix (18:44)

More information through Craft Recordings

Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul Vinyl Package

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