Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It?
The appeal of Isaac Hayes spans the generations: To some, he's the voice behind Jerome "Chef" McElroy on the raucous animated series South Park, while to others, he's a songwriter who helped pen many '60s Memphis soul classics and later developed the alter ego "Black Moses of Soul," whose musical flights of fancy influenced both the blaxploitation film explosion and the funk and hip-hop that would follow. Comprising two CDs and a DVD, Ultimate Isaac Hayes surveys his musical contributions from 1968-78 -- and then some. The set kicks off with his breakthrough signature song, "Theme from Shaft," and the remaining 31 cuts showcase the man's skills during his Stax/Volt tenure, as an artist who boasted an ear for tasteful orchestral arrangements, a distinct, romantic growl, and a masterful ability to interpret the songs of others. Who else could take the Bacharach/David classic "Walk On By" and stretch it out to more than ten minutes while infusing it with psychedelic fuzz guitar, darting strings, and organ vamps -- and still convey a spot-on mix of remorse and heartbreak? And if some Hayes originals, such as the instrumental "Disco Connection," sound somewhat dated, there's no denying that he knows how to sustain a serious funk groove. The DVD completes the portrait by offering a sense of his imposing visual presence. Three of the four clips on the bonus DVD are taken from Hayes's appearance at the seminal 1972 Watts Stax concert, and the fourth is an animated video of the novelty cut "Chocolate Salty Balls," which he wrote for South Park. Can You Dig It? underscores the timeless charm of Isaac Hayes.