Yikes it's been a rough weekend.
First comedian Bernie Mac dies on Friday and now soul legend and 2002 Rock Hall inductee Isaac Hayes.
For many folks under 30 Hayes was known for two things, asking folks "who is the man who would risk his life for his brother man" in his academy award winning theme from Shaft and his stint as Chef on South Park.
If you're a bit older you may recall that he was once "DUKE OF NEW YORK..A number 1!" in the 80's Kurt Russell vehicle Escape from New York.
Go back to the previous decade and you may recall him starring in the blaxploitation flicks Truck Turner and Tough Guys (and their funky soundtracks), of his recurring role as Gandolph Fitch on the (still underrated) cop show The Rockford Files.
Or perhaps you recall his show stopping performance in the 1973 Watts Stax documentary which every fan of soul/R&B music and/or truly impressive afros should see.
Then of course there was his fruitful association with Stax Records and former production/songwriting partner David Porter which produced many of that legendary labels classic tunes such as Hold On I'm Comin You Don't Know Like I Know, When Something Is Wrong with My Baby, Ain't That Lovin' You (For More Reasons Than One) and Soul Man.
But although Hayes was a fine songwriter in his own right who favored big horn charts and orchestral accoutrements in his own tunes, he also covered other artists/songwriters songs like no one else.
Hayes was a fan of Burt Bacharach's music and like many artists in the 1970s he covered Bacharach's music quite a bit, there was no mistaking that for those few (or several) minutes that song, be it the funkiest version of Walk On By, ever recorded or the sexy groove and punchy horns underneath The Look of Love was for those 11 minutes or so, belonged to Hayes.
Likewise his 18 minute plus jam on Jimmy Webb By The Time I Get To Phoenix with one of his signature Ike's Raps as it's intro. It's the kind of extended jam that coupled with Hayes soothing baritone that you put on the record player (ha, ha), sit back and simply let yourself sink into the steady groove while Ike takes his time to explain the vagaries of love.
If it takes the death of an artist to get you interested in their music than here's a list of Hayes albums into which you can sink.
Hot Buttered Soul (1969) - Features both Walk On By and By The Time I Get To Phoenix plus the heavily sampled, slow burning funk jam Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic
...To Be Continued (1970) - Contains the first of Hayes monologues aka Ike's Rap along with the long full version of Walk On By and the soulful and much sampled take on Medley:Ike's Mood I/You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling.
Black Moses (1971) - Contains his boudoir warming cover of Never Can Say Goodbye and nice version of Curtis Mayfield's Man's Temptation and Gamble and Huff's Never Gonna Give You Up all funked up.
Shaft (1971) - Duh, it's got Shaft plus Do Your Thing another extended funk jam awash in wah-wah guitar craziness.
Joy (1973) - The main reason to buy this album...CD...digital download is for the 15 minute title track, a big, over the top jam that has also been pretty popular with hip hop producers.
Branded (1995) the first and better half of two simultaneously released comeback albums (the other was the mostly instrumental Raw and Refined) that found Hayes hooking up with old buddy David Porter and a few of the session guys from the Stax days for a surprisingly satisfying, slightly updated take on his classic sound.
At Watt Stax (2003) - This is Hayes' set from the Watt Stax concert at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 1972 and he's in full control of all of his powers and the crowd. Backed by an hard grooving band, Hayes lays down some of his raps, gives you a Shaft the socially conscious Soulsville and a smoking medley of Bill Withers Ain't No Sunshine (with Hayes on alto sax) and Lonely Avenue.
R.I.P. Black Moses...