Stax reissues album that made Soul Man a star
One of the best and most grandiose soul albums ever recorded, Hot Buttered Soul made Isaac Hayes a superstar and changed the face of black pop music for the next decade. Then a prominent songwriter and backing musician at Stax, Hayes was fascinated by traditional songcraft and drawn to the work of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, whose “Walk On By” opens this 1969 album. Rather than heed the song’s concise, compact charms, Hayes explodes it from the center, turning it at first into a symphonic ballad and then a tight jam with The Bar-Kays. “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic” is a sweaty funk workout, and “One Woman” a conflicted ode to monogamy, but it’s the third cover, Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” that blows minds with its 9-minute spoken intro and superlatively heraldic horns. This new reissue includes the significantly shortened single edits of both covers, but why would you want only seven minutes when you can get the full, grandiloquent 18?