Hot Buttered Soul

Hot Buttered Soul

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Hot Buttered Soul sounds exactly as Isaac Hayes named it. The lush arrangements featuring strings and horns were recorded at United Sound Studios in Detroit, home of Motown Records, and had been arranged by Johnny Allen, who had arranged music for The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and The Supremes, and who would later do the arrangements on the soundtrack to Shaft, for which he won a Grammy. The album's opening track, a cover of the Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic "Walk on By," was like nothing that had ever been heard before in popular music. Hayes' vocals take more than two minutes to appear. Craft Recordings’ 180g vinyl LP makes the wait even more worthwhile and sounds and looks incredible. Remastered from the original analog tapes by engineer Dave Cooley, it also features a replica old-school style tip-on jacket for exquisite packaging. 

Hayes, along with keyboardist Marvell Thomas and The Bar-Keys (Willie Hall, drums; James Alexander, bass; Michael Toles, guitar), recorded the basic tracks for the 1969 set at Ardent Studios in Memphis. Together, they produced the ultimate funk and soul stew to mix with the Detroit strings and horns. "Walk On By" alone runs for 12-minutes, and when it's over there's a sense of having been overwhelmed, but in the nicest way possible. It is so different from Dionne Warwick's original that it stands alone as a definitive reading of this classic number. 

The chart-topping album's other standout track is the 18-minute, LP-side-filling "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," a song that had originally been a hit for Glen Campbell. Hayes speaks the intro, which runs for nearly nine minutes, and when he starts to sing, the song develops into an amazing musical experience. He at once strips it bare and rebuilds it into something that defies definition. The coda on "Phoenix" is just awesome as its intro and the album is worth the price of admission for this track alone. The other two numbers on the record are slightly more traditional, with "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" being a funkyfied track that owes something to the kind of step-change music that was beginning to come from Blue Note Records while "One Woman" is the kind of Southern soul ballad that could only have come from Memphis.

  1. Walk On By
  2. Hyberbolicsyllabicsequedalymistic
  3. One Woman
  4. By The Time I Get To Phoenix

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