The Ultimate Isaac Hayes – “Can You Dig It?” – Stax 2 CD + Bonus DVD set

by | Nov 18, 2005 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews | 0 comments

The Ultimate Isaac Hayes  – “Can You Dig It?” –  Stax
2 CD + Bonus DVD set – 3SCD-88043-2 **** or ***1/2 (depending…):

Oh boy, what a set!  Besides having an incredible amount of
writing/composition credits for Stax/Volt singles over the years, Isaac
Hayes was the “self -declared ladies man” artist of choice.  You
know, the type of guy who considered himself to be a sensitive romantic
icon setting up his seduction technique by utilizing up-to-20 minute
Hayes pieces such as “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”, “I Stand
Accused”or “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”.  Heck, back
in the day I perceived myself as a member of this group – a possessor
of great seductive prowess with Ike in the background setting the
mood.  My girlfriend (now wife) does not necessarily agree with me
here.  She will use adjectives like “awkward’ or “fumbling” to
describe the experience, while I maintain that words such as “suave” or
“sophisticated” are more apt.  More on this in a moment. 
Isaac Hayes most certainly served as the model for Barry White’s not
dissimilar style, while at the same time offering up some great funk
& classic soul numbers of more typical length.  After all, he
wrote such Memphis classics as “Soul Man” and “Hold On I’m
Coming”.  That he could then turn so successfully to creating
stupendous arrangements for the material of others is a testament to
his true genius.

But here is where the controversy and irony of this 2 CD audio/15
minute performance DVD comes in.  Even though there is a generous
78 or 79 minute total time on each CD, the true epics are edited in
length.  (For example, the 18 minute “By The Time I Get To
Phoenix” is cut down to 7:02).  I consider these decisions to be a
mistake and a disservice to the artist.  It would have been far
better to include fewer tracks and present the full-length
versions.  Obviously, the short tracks are treated much
better.  This issue does, however, address two related points:

1).  Those two-bit Casanovas weren’t much better than a maximum of 10-12 minutes anyway.  (LOL)

2).  Present day society collectively suffers from ADD and short
attention spans – so maybe the full versions would go unappreciated in
the first place.  A terrible indictment but a horribly true one.

For those who want 32 tracks of prime Isaac Hayes from 1968-77, this
package offers an efficient collection.  Mr. Hayes’ influence on
current music and sampling-grooves are voluminously laid out.  For
those die-hards like myself (or those who truly wish to marvel at the
entirety of mood-establishing perfection), I guess it’ll require
picking up “Hot Buttered Soul,” “The Isaac Hayes Movement” or “To Be
Continued.”  If contemplating going this route, be advised that
this package does include the full length album version of “Walk On
By”.  Listen carefully to this number to fully digest the
classical strings/guitar/jazz/R&B rhythm along with the fabulous
ballad delivery mastering the meaning and feel behind the song. 
Here is the demonstration of the man’s profound and singular impact on
all the charts:  R&B, pop AND jazz.  Ike simply ruled
everything in his hey-day.  So what to do?  Myself, I’d go
with the 3 singular discs mentioned a couple of sentences ago. 
However, I’m not necessarily reflective of today’s world.  If you
don’t have any Isaac Hayes – and you gotta have some Isaac Hayes – then
it would be far from a mistake to get this package.  You would
then also have the bonus of a fine remastering job.

The DVD taken from a 1972 Wattstax performance – though impossibly
dated – certainly does reveal Hayes’ majesty, including some
photographic images still relevant today (along with rather
crude “Chef” shenanigans from South Park’s animator).

Disc 1:
1-Theme from Shaft   2-Precious, Precious 
3-Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic  4-Ain’t That Loving You (For
More Reasons Than One)  5-Never Can Say Goodbye  6-By the
Time I Get to Phoenix  7-Soulsville  8-Wonderful  9-Help
Me Love  10-Need to Belong to Someone  11- Good Love 
12-The Look of Love  13-Do Your Thing  14-For the Good
Times  15- I Stand Accused

Disc 2:
1-Walk on By  2-Joy (Part 1)  3-His Eye is on the
Sparrow  4-Brand New Me  5-If Loving You is Wrong (I Don’t
Want to be Right)  6-Someone Made You for Me  7- Baby I’m – I
Want You  8- Let’s Stay Together 9-Theme from the Men  10-I
Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love With You)  11-Title
Theme  12- Run Fay Run  13- Chocolate Chip  14-Come Live
with Me  15-Disco Connection  16-Rock Me Easy Baby (Part
1)  17- By the Time I Get to Phoenix/I Say a Little Prayer

Special Bonus DVD:
From Isaac Hayes’ 1972 Performance at Wattstax: Rolling Down A
Mountainside/Theme From Shaft/Soulsville From South Park –Isaac Hayes
as “Chef” Chocolate Salty Balls

 – Birney Brown
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