Craft Recordings is proud to announce the forthcoming release of The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976), chronicling the ascension of one of the most influential creative talents in music history, Isaac Hayes, who would have turned 75 this year. Due out September 22nd, the four-cd collection examines the various avenues of Hayes‘ prolific career; each disc offering an in-depth look at his distinct musical contributions to both Memphis-based Stax Records and to the world at large: from his foundational presence as a songwriter and producer at Stax, to his artistic metamorphosis and subsequent rise to stardom. The set also includes a wide range of previously-unreleased material, as well as a replica 7″ vinyl single of the artist’s first commercially-released recordings. Housed in a 60-page hardcover book, the retrospective incorporates a wealth of archival photos and ephemera, as well as an essay by author Robert Gordon (Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion) which includes new interviews with Stax luminaries Deanie Parker and Jim Stewart. Contributions from Floyd Newman, Mickey Gregory, Sam Moore (Sam & Dave), and compilation producer Joe McEwen round out the package. Track listing below.
From his humble beginnings as an orphaned sharecropper to his rise as a session musician, house songwriter, and producer for Stax Records, to his arrival as a star in his own right, Isaac Hayes (1942-2008) became a symbol of what was possible for Black America. Dubbed “Black Moses” during the height of his popularity, Hayes revolutionized soul music, leading it out of the era of the three-minute single and into new territory: that of the fully-orchestrated concept album, complete with extended cuts that, in some cases, spanned nearly the entire side of an LP. The artist also broke barriers in the film industry, scoring the 1971 film Shaft. The soundtrack became Hayes‘ fourth consecutive platinum LP, and also earned him an Academy Award® for Best Original Song (“Theme From Shaft”). The musician became the first African American to win the Oscar in a non-acting category, and was also the first recipient of the Best Original Song category to both write and perform the winning track. Hayes‘ success opened the door for other artists and composers, like Curtis Mayfield and Norman Whitfield, to score music for the screen.
Each disc of The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976) examines a different facet of Hayes‘ career. Disc one covers his early work as a songwriter and producer at Stax, including many of his legendary collaborations with David Porter, such as Carla Thomas‘ “B-A-B-Y” recently featured in the hit film Baby Driver, and Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man,“ which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year.
Disc two spotlights Isaac Hayes as a solo artist, featuring his singles recorded for the Volt and Enterprise imprints; from his breakthrough track “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,“ off Hot Buttered Soul, to his subsequent chartbusters, including “Never Can Say Goodbye,“ “Do Your Thing” and the iconic, ubiquitous chart-topping hit, “Theme from Shaft.“
The third disc, aptly titled “Cover Man,“ examines Isaac‘s uncanny ability to transform tunes by songwriting greats such as Burt Bacharach and Hal David and make them entirely his own. This disc also includes previously unreleased material, including a studio version of “Windows of the World” and live covers of “Stormy Monday,“ “I Stand Accused,“ and “The Ten Commandments of Love,“ all recorded at a 1972 concert in Chicago.
The final disc, entitled “Jam Master,“ offers fans a seat in the studio with Isaac Hayes, showcasing extended jams from his classic LPs, including a full, 33-minute freeform psychedelic Bar-Kays jam on “Do Your Thing.“ This disc also includes unreleased work-in-progress versions of “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,“ the Bill Withers-penned classic “Ain’t No Sunshine,“ and a never-before-heard composition from the Shaft soundtrack entitled “Black Militant’s Place.“
This collection marks a cornerstone in a year-long initiative celebrating Stax Records’ 60th anniversary and comes on the heels of a recent digital release of Hayes’ Enterprise albums re-mastered from the original analog tapes by renowned engineer Dave Cooley at Elysian Masters earlier this year. LP reissues cut from these new masters, including the best-selling Hot Buttered Soul, Black Moses, and Shaft will be available later this year.
The cross-label collaboration between Concord Music Group and Rhino Entertainment has highlighted the hits, deep cuts and rare tracks from the Memphis label’s heyday of the ’60s and ’70s. Indeed, Isaac Hayes was an integral part of “The Memphis Sound,“ and helped to not only shape the sound of a genre, but also helped it explode into mainstream pop culture. 75 years after Hayes‘ birth, and nearly a decade after his passing, his music, style and influence still live on today. Many of the most recognizable Hip-Hop beats and drops have been born from Hayes‘ original tracks and a collaboration with WhoSampled.com launching in connection with the release of the box set will showcase his lasting effect on popular music.
“The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976) is an attempt to frame a career that doesn’t always fit neatly together. This box set is a little idiosyncratic, like its subject and the desire is to tell a story, put together in chapters,” writes box set producer Joe McEwen in his Producer’s Note, “hopefully to give context to a visionary talent who came of age in Memphis, Tennessee among a generational eruption of musicians that moved mountains…”
Pre-order The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976) on Amazon.