It’s pretty obvious who would win in a fight between Isaac Hayes and Isaac Newton, Newton was a fat frilly-haired fuck. I wonder if Hayes would nail Newton in a side to side comparison of achievements as well? Gravity Vs Isaac Hayes’ version of ‘walk on by’… Luckily I am not on the panel of judges for that one particular bout as it’s going to be a close call.
The first time I heard this I was very much into the kind of short, punchy and instantly gratifying soul that the likes of the four tops, the supremes and the temptations would so effortlessly deliver. This was then something of a shock: Only four tracks two of which last about the same length as the entirety of THE DWARVES album ‘blood, guts and pussy’. Initially I dismissed it as elongated fuck music, a kind of exaggerated excursion into the realms of a leaner meaner BARRY WHITE. Then about then years ago I came back to it.
The production on ‘hot buttered soul’, the work of Stax long-timer Al Bell is so good that I can’t really talk about it without sounding like an excitable puppy dog faced with his first stick might if he could talk. Personally I can take or leave the two original tracks here, one is stupidly titled too funky and the other ‘one woman’ is good but obvious. To be fair, under normal circumstances they would probably hold up well but the fact is that they are sandwiched between two giant and sprawling monoliths of soul perfection, Hayes’ versions of ‘walk on by’ and ‘by the time I get to phoenix’. There is no doubt that both of those songs are on the tape God plays when he breaks up with a girlfriend.
For a long time this album was indescribably colossal, then in the early nineties a project co-sponsored by Stax records and the US government was undertaken. Experiments were conducted to see how big ‘walk on by’ would be if it were converted from music into land mass. The scientists eventually concluded that that one song was bigger than the whole of Spain. (Including Ibiza, Menorca and Majorca, but not Gibraltar.)
Add that staggering nugget to the fact that Hayes’ was also an early champion of the whole ‘beard and no hair’ look and my prediction is that Newton is going down in the third to a knock out punch.