These weeks we focus on an American singer-songwriter, actor, and producer. He was one of the creative influences behind the southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served both as an in-house songwriter and as a record producer, teaming with his partner David Porter during the mid-1960s. Hayes, Porter, Bill Withers, the Sherman Brothers, Steve Cropper, and John Fogerty were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of writing scores of notable songs for themselves, the duo Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, and others. He is also a 2002 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We'll start at the beginning ......N'joy
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Few figures exerted greater influence over the music of the 1960s and 1970s than Isaac Hayes; after laying the groundwork for the Memphis soul sound through his work with Stax-Volt Records, Hayes began a highly successful solo career which predated not only the disco movement but also the evolution of rap.
Hayes was born on August 20, 1942, in Covington, TN; his parents died during his infancy, and he was raised by his grandparents. After making his public debut singing in church at the age of five, he taught himself piano, organ, and saxophone before moving to Memphis to perform on the city's club circuit in a series of short-lived groups like Sir Isaac and the Doo-Dads, the Teen Tones, and Sir Calvin and His Swinging Cats. In 1962, he began his recording career, cutting sides for a variety of local labels.
Two years later, Hayes began playing sax with the Mar-Keys, which resulted in the beginning of his long association with Stax Records. After playing on several sessions for Otis Redding, Hayes was tapped to play keyboards in the Stax house band, and eventually established a partnership with songwriter David Porter. Under the name the Soul Children, the Hayes-Porter duo composed some 200 songs, reeling off a string of hits for Stax luminaries like Sam & Dave (the brilliant "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby," "Soul Man," and "Hold on, I'm Comin'"), Carla Thomas ("B-A-B-Y"), and Johnnie Taylor ("I Got to Love Somebody's Baby," "I Had a Dream").
In 1967, Hayes issued his debut solo LP Presenting Isaac Hayes, a loose, jazz-flavored effort recorded in the early-morning hours following a raucous Stax party. With the release of 1969's landmark Hot Buttered Soul, he made his commercial breakthrough; the record's adventuresome structure (comprising four lengthy songs), ornate arrangements, and sensual grooves -- combined with the imposing figure cut by his shaven head, omnipresent sunglasses, and fondness for gold jewelry -- made Hayes one of the most distinctive figures in music.
After a pair of 1970 releases, The Isaac Hayes Movement and To Be Continued, he reached his commercial zenith in 1971 with the release of Shaft, the score from the Gordon Parks film of the same name. Not only did the album win Hayes an Academy Award for Best Score (the first African-American composer to garner such an honor), but the single "Theme from Shaft," a masterful blend of prime funk and pre-rap monologues, became a number one hit.
After 1971's superb Black Moses and 1973's Joy, Hayes composed two 1974 soundtracks, Tough Guys and Truck Turner (in which he also starred). By 1975, relations with Stax had disintegrated following a battle over royalties, and soon he severed his ties with the label to form his own Hot Buttered Soul imprint. Although both 1975's Chocolate Chip and 1976's Groove-a-Thon went gold, his records of the period attracted considerably less attention than prior efforts; combined with poor management and business associations, Hayes had no choice but to file for bankruptcy in 1976.
After the 1977 double-LP A Man and a Woman, recorded with Dionne Warwick, Hayes began a comeback on the strength of the hit singles "Zeke the Freak," "Don't Let Go." and "Do You Wanna Make Love." Following the success of his 1979 collection of duets with Millie Jackson titled Royal Rappins, he issued a pair of solo records, 1980's And Once Again and 1981's Lifetime Thing before retiring from music for five years. After returning in 1986 with the LP U Turn and the Top Ten R&B hit "Ike's Rap," Hayes surfaced two years later with Love Attack before again dropping out of music to focus on acting.
In 1995, fully enshrined as one of the forefathers of hip-hop and newly converted to Scientology, Hayes emerged with two concurrent releases, the vocal Branded and instrumental Raw and Refined. Under the official name Nene Katey Ocansey I, he also served as a member of the royal family of the African nation of Ghana while continuing simultaneous careers as an actor, composer, and humanitarian. In 1997, Hayes provided the voice of what was slated to be a one-time character on the animated series South Park -- Jerome "Chef" McElroy, the main characters' favorite school cafeteria worker. Hayes was an instant hit, and Chef became a regular character on the show, lending advice and, oftentimes, breaking into songs that gently sent up Hayes' image as one of R&B's ultimate love men.
South Park made Hayes more visible than ever and cemented his status as an icon with a whole new generation. He contributed the infamous "Chocolate Salty Balls" to the South Park tie-in album Chef Aid, and naturally appeared in the film South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut. (He left the show only after an episode made fun of Scientology.) In 2000, Hayes revisited his biggest triumph of the past by appearing in the remake of Shaft starring Samuel L. Jackson. The following year, he supported Alicia Keys as a musician and arranger on her acclaimed debut, Songs in A Minor.
On August 5, 2003, Hayes was honored as a BMI Icon at the 2003 BMI Urban Awards for his enduring influence on generations of music makers. Throughout his songwriting career, Hayes received five BMI R&B Awards, two BMI Pop Awards, two BMI Urban Awards and six Million-Air citations. As of 2008, his songs generated more than 12 million performances. Although he recorded little during the 2000s, he appeared in many films, including 2004's Hustle and Flow. Hayes was in ill health on August 10, 2008, when he collapsed at his home in Memphis and was pronounced dead later that day of a stroke due to high blood pressure.
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This is the follow-up to his successful 1975 album Chocolate Chip. But what was so enduring and skilled on that effort doesn't show up here. By 1973, Hayes' hitmaking skill became streaky. On this effort, he seems to be in a holding pattern. Hayes doesn't make any significant strides forward and fails to expound on the melodic richness of Chocolate Chip. This starts off with the title track. "Juicy Fruit (Disco Freak) is just one of those songs that had to happen. The song has no shame and features a two-minute intro of Hayes and his bandmembers at a "disco," whooping it up with some loud woman. Although this is the unquestionable nadir, with lyrics like "They say disco music is here to stay/And it will never go away," Hayes' trademark arranging skills bailed him out. By this time, Hayes' fans could tell one of his lackluster efforts from miles away. This is one. The ballad "Let's Don't Ever Blow Our Thing" clocking in at 6:08 is probably too long-winded for even his biggest fans. Being one of the more talented and underrated artists, Hayes was going to get one or two prime moments. The album's best track is the haunting "Lady of the Night." The song has Hayes perplexed and falling in love with a prostitute as he sings, "How many Johns have come and gone/I wonder but I really don't want to know." That track is about as interesting as Hayes is going to get here. This album was oddly reminiscent of his mid-'70s disappointments Tough Guys and Truck Turner. Hayes sounds a little distracted throughout, and without any big hits, this album quickly came and went. Here the Stax issued remastered 2009 edition of the album.
Isaac Hayes - Juicy Fruit (Disco Freak) (flac 250mb)
01 Juicy Fruit (Disco Freak) 9:40
02 Let's Don't Ever Blow Our Thing 6:08
03 The Storm Is Over 4:42
04 Music To Make Love By 6:23
05 Thank You Love 4:47
06 Lady Of The Night 4:10
07 Love Me Or Lose Me 5:33
Isaac Hayes - Juicy Fruit (Disco Freak) (ogg 98mb)
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After 1975's classic Chocolate Chip and a strong production job for the Masqueraders album Everybody Wanna Live On, Hayes' subsequent work with ABC was often poorly executed and conceived, save for the one or two tracks that properly displayed his melodic genius. With his last ABC effort being a live album with Dionne Warwick that just didn't sell, some changes had to be made. This is the first effort for Polydor and it turned out to be successful partnership. With a new label, Hayes also began to record at Master Sound in Georgia rather than his studio in Memphis, Hot Buttered Soul. Both the label and locale switch seemed to freshen up his musical approach. This album didn't start off on the best footing, though. Hayes' ghastly disco-fied cover of "Stranger in Paradise" shows little trace of his arranging skills or song-picking abilities. The other dance tracks are markedly better. "Moonlight Lovin' (Ménage à Trois)" has him doing Barry White one better by bringing an extra woman into the mix. With its playful rhythm and sweeping changes, he sang gleefully about the "the rendezvous of me and you and you" and said ménage à trois enough times that his "dates" thought it was their idea. On New Horizon Hayes turns in two of his best ballads. The meditative "Don't Take Your Love Away" has him going for more subtle surroundings in a style that suffered the most on his post-Chocolate Chip work. On "It's Heaven to Me" he displays a winning vulnerability, and it is easily one of the prettiest songs he ever recorded. Although some of the best tracks on New Horizon are available on compilations, the entire album is worth seeking out.
Isaac Hayes - New Horizon (flac 414mb)
01 Stranger In Paradise 10:11
02 Moonlight Lovin' (Ménage Á Trois) 10:01
03 Don't Take Your Love Away 7:36
04 Out Of The Ghetto 5:47
05 It's Heaven To Me 4:23
06 Moonlight Lovin' (Ménage Á Trois) (Long Version) 16:15
07 Out Of The Ghetto 3:58
08 Moonlight Lovin' (Ménage Á Trois) (Single Version) 3:54
Isaac Hayes - New Horizon (ogg 156mb)
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Isaac Hayes' 1977-1982 stint on Polydor had him often doing strong work that differed from both his efforts at Enterprise and ABC. By the late '70s, Hayes had refined and updated his sound and stopped recording in Memphis. Although this album's predecessor, New Horizon, wasn't a big seller, it certainly helped him adapt to the changing musical landscape. In turn, Don't Let Go has Hayes even more confident and comfortable with his new sound. The title track has Roy Hamilton's jaunty classic all but unrecognizable with Hayes' propulsive and expert disco take. With pushy horns, cooing background girls, and his subdued vocal, he effortlessly attained disco's sense of fun. The song's insouciance seemed to rub off on the rest of this album. "What Does It Take" has Hayes steaming it up with help from a high-pitched bassline and a subtle buzzing guitar. On the best ballad here, the teasing "Few More Kisses to Go," Hayes plays the pathway to adulthood as waits for his "precious moment," singing "girl's gonna be a full-grown woman, before this night is through." The best tracks on this album have Hayes' infallible sense of melody, but there are a few duds. His disco version of "Fever" comes off a little desperate and pointless. The last track, "Someone Who Will Take the Place of You," is a good angry ballad, but clocking in at ten-and-a-half minutes, it's a little too much of a good thing. Don't Let Go is Hayes' most successful effort for Polydor.
Isaac Hayes - Don't Let Go (flac 464mb)
01 Don't Let Go 7:15
02 What Does It Take 6:01
03 A Few More Kisses To Go 6:10
04 Fever 8:22
05 Someone Who Will Take The Place Of You 10:32
06 You Can't Hold Your Woman 4:51
07 Don't Let Go (12'' Disco Version) 12:52
08 A Few More Kisses To Go (12'' Long Version) 7:24
09 Someone Who Will Take The Place Of You (Single Version) 3:57
10 Don't Let Go (Single Version) 3:58
11 A Few More Kisses To Go (Single Version) 4:09
Isaac Hayes - Don't Let Go (ogg 174mb)
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