Saturday, November 12, 2005

Excuse me, but I must talk about Isaac Hayes... especially for those of you who only know him as "The Chef" on South Park. Isaac Hayes literally defined the soul music movement in Memphis in the early 1970's. His 1969 release Hot Buttered Soul revved up nationwide interest in well-produced R&B and soul, and it was followed a couple of years later by the time-honored Shaft, the title track of which spawned some of the most fabulous wah-wah pedal guitar playing ever heard. Even today, when you visit Guitar Center, one of the nation's leading music stores, you'll often hear "Theme from Shaft" playing overhead.

I was fortunate enough to have had a personal connection with Isaac Hayes, in that one of my dad's good friends in Memphis, Perry Allen, was Isaac's business manager in the early 70's. Perry himself hosted a jazz/blues radio show in Memphis (a tall task, that, given the local blues scene) in the late 1970's and owned a record shop on Vance Avenue. Perry was a great guy -- quite an original. If you can recall Cab Calloway's character in The Blues Brothers, you'll have a pretty good mental picture of Perry Allen. I think Perry is on the West Coast these days, and I certainly hope that he's still connected.

This morning, as I browsed the iTunes music store, I was happy to see that almost all of Isaac Hayes' albums are now available. For those of you who may be too young to remember (after all, this music was released before many of my friends were even born), Isaac introduced a form of rap on his 70's albums, although what was produced in those days bore no resemblance to today's rap. Black Moses featured a series of "Ike's Raps", with the husky-throated singer pleading with his ladies to cut him some slack, to see what a good man he was, oh yeah, baby. Each rap segued into a soulful ballad, and whether the songs were original or covers (as many of the Black Moses tracks are), Isaac's innate ability to emote came clearly through. Even if you don't consider yourself a fan of "soul music", you owe it to yourself to browse a few of these true originals.

And with that, I must bid adieu and see what Saturday holds in store. Have fun, brothers and sisters. And y'all...I mean that in the truest way I can say.