Hot Buttered Soul
By James Calemine
STAX/Concord Records have just reissued Isaac Hayes’ classic Hot Buttered Soul. First released in 1969, Hot Buttered Soul transcended the standard “hit” format. The opening track, “Walk On By” clocked in at 12 minutes and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” runs almost 20 minutes long.
This album ushered in a new era of long-playing soul albums. The reissue contains two bonus tracks, which are the single edits of “Walk On By” and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” (A Jimmy Webb cover), like the rest of the album are digitally re-mastered. Recorded at Memphis’ Ardent Studios, Hot Buttered Soul served as Hayes’ second solo album.
STAX put little pressure on Hayes for this album and it shows. Surviving members of Otis Redding’s plane crash—the Bar-Kays’ guitarist Michael Toles and drummer Willie Hall—served as players on the record. Interestingly, strings for this album were recorded in Motown’s hometown Detroit, instead of Memphis.
As well as the original liner notes, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James penned a new edition of album notes for this reissue. This is a mood album. "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" almost sounds like a sermon. "Hyperbolicssyallablesquedalymistic" serves as the only song Hayes penned with his old songwriting partner William Bell on this CD. Hot Buttered Soul never fails to unlock some defiant courage in a wayward pilgrim lost in this mean old world. This is some fine musical medicine...