Isaac Hayes – At Wattstax (1972)

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Isaac Hayes
At Wattstax
Recorded August 20, 1972 in Los Angeles
Released 2003 on STAX (SCD-88042-2)

1. Theme From “Shaft” 4:38
2. Soulsville 4:37
3. Never Can Say Goodbye 5:16
4. Part-Time Love 5:55
5. Your Love Is So Doggone Good 8:18
6. Ain’t No Sunshine/Lonely Avenue 17:06
7. I Stand Accused 6:24
8. If I Had A Hammer 9:23

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Today is two years to the day that Isaac Hayes was killed by Scientologists and left us on earth without his benign presence. Even though he had not recorded much music for quite some time, the world just felt like a warmer, groovier place by having him in it, and the news of his death shook me up more than I would have expected. In the world of musical celebrities I have never actually met, there are musicians who when they pass away we can say “their time had come” with some acceptance. Isaac Hayes was not one of these, at 66 years old it seemed too young.

I had planned to post this last night in the hopes of having a 2-part tribute to Mr. Hayes, but my car was totaled by an asshole truck driver in the wrong lane who didn’t feel like slowing down for a stop light. This was an unexpected interruption in my blogging habits… We will see, I just might post the second half today as I have resolved to celebrate the fact that I walked away without a scratch by doing as little serious work as possible today. It is quite likely Part 2 will be up before midnight.

Let`s move on to talking about this album

isaac hayes

I was really excited to find out that this album had even been released — issued a few years back by the resuscitated Fantasy/Stax franchise, it documents Isaac Hayes at the landmark festival that he headlined, Wattstax, which spawned the famous and award-winning documentary. Promoted as “the black Woodstock”, the iconic Hayes stalked the stage draped in gold chains and thrilled the expectant crowd that had waited all day for him. I had always thought that the film contained precious little of Hayes’ performance, as did the soundtrack, and wondered if a live album had been planned by Hayes and his management. Well, now that the previously-unreleased material from the rest of the set (or most of it, I am not entirely sure) has been issued, I rather suspect that it was kept “in the can” for other reasons. I won’t call it a mediocre performance, because it is still quite good, but it pales in comparison to his live album to be released the following year, Live at the Sahara Tahoe. But this is still an essential document for any fan of Isaac Hayes.

As the album booklet and tray state, the track “Part Time Love” is missing the lead vocal during to the master tapes being damaged, which make the tune sound like a weird demo. The backing vocals come in at the end, making the whole thing kind of odd. The extended take on Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” is amazing, but still once again just not as good as the version on the Sahara Tahoe album. The CD closes with Jesse Jackson’s famous speech, a high point of the film, and a rendering of “If I Had A Hammer.” This release may not be the place to start for new Isaac Hayes fans, but for those already converted it is pretty essential listening.

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Isaac Hayes – At Wattstax (1972) in 320kbs em pee tree

Isaac Hayes – At Wattstax (1972) in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO

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