Written by: Jen Dan
Legendary producer, singer-songwriter, musician, and cultural icon Isaac Hayes will soon be honored with a new retrospective, The Spirit of Memphis (1962 – 1976). The 4-cd and 7” vinyl box set arrives September 22nd via Craft Recordings.
The multi-faceted, influential artist has had a prolific and diverse career and each CD of The Spirit of Memphis (1962 – 1976) takes a detailed look into Hayes’ creative contributions to renowned Memphis-based Stax Records and to the cultural zeitgeist. The box set covers Hayes’ time as a songwriter and producer at Stax, his continual artistic evolution, and his rise to fame.
The Spirit of Memphis (1962 – 1976) also includes a variety of previously unreleased material, a replica 7” vinyl single of his first commercially released recordings, and a 60-page hardcover book. The book contains a trove of archival footage and ephemera, as well as an essay by author Robert Gordon, interviews with Stax luminaries Deanie Parker and Jim Stewart, and contributions from Floyd Newman, Mickey Gregory, Sam Moore, and the compilation’s producer Joe McEwen.
Stereo Embers Magazine is honored to premiere Hayes’ previously unreleased recording, “Black Militant’s Place”, from the Oscar-winning Shaft soundtrack.
Excerpts from the The Spirit of Memphis (1962 – 1976) press release:
Isaac Hayes (1942-2008) became a symbol of what was possible for Black America. He was an integral part of ‘60s and ‘70s “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.
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.
“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…”