CRAFT RECORDINGS UNVEILS ISAAC HAYES' GROUNDBREAKING 1969 ALBUM HOT BUTTERED SOUL AS LATEST TITLE IN ACCLAIMED SMALL BATCH VINYL SERIES

Craft Recordings is pleased to announce an audiophile pressing of Hot Buttered Soul: the earth-shattering 1969 hit record from GRAMMY® and Academy Award®-winning singer, songwriter, producer, and actor, Isaac Hayes. The album—which marks the sixth reissue in Craft’s acclaimed Small Batch vinyl series—pushed the boundaries of soul music, while setting Hayes on the path to superstardom, thanks to such groundbreaking tracks as Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic,” plus ambitious renditions of the Bacharach/David classic “Walk on By” and Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” Available March 1st and limited to just 3,000 copies worldwide, Hot Buttered Soul can be found exclusively at CraftRecordings.com or AcousticSounds.com.

Handpicked from Craft’s extensive catalog, each Small Batch release offers listeners the highest-quality, authentic sound—distilled to its purest form. As with all albums in the series, Hot Buttered Soul features lacquers cut from the original tapes (AAA) by Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI with Neotech’s VR900 compound. Using a one-step lacquer process (as opposed to the standard three-step process), this technique allows for the utmost level of musical detail, clarity, and dynamics while reducing the amount of surface noise on the record. The limited nature of these pressings guarantees that each record is a true representation of the original lacquer and is as close as the listener can get to the original recording.

Since launching in 2020, the Small Batch series has drawn accolades from both sides of the Atlantic. Speaking to previous edition, Thelonious Monk’s Brilliant Corners, Analog Planet declared that the set “sounds more realistic, full-bodied, natural, and richer... If you love this Monk music and want the best possible version you can get your hands and ears on, then this new edition may very well be your jam.” While Record Collector Magazine described it as a “...masterpiece lovingly revived... superlative... revelatory in terms of sonic detail, while the deluxe packaging, including new liner notes, is also top-notch.” Absolute Soundsummarized the pressing as “intensely alive, more upfront and dynamically forceful, with exceptional clarity, focus, and kind of you-are-there intimacy...if you can still find it, do!” and PopMatters’ echoed in a 10/10-star review, “Craft Recordings’ reissue certainly gives Brilliant Corners the respect it deserves, with a sumptuously packaged reissue and stunning sonic fidelity. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to add this to your collection, the wait is over.”

Each copy of Hot Buttered Soul is individually numbered and encased in a foil-stamped, linen-wrapped slipcase featuring an acrylic inset of the original artwork. The vinyl disc—extractable through a unique, frictionless ribbon pull tab—is housed in a reproduction of the album’s original tip-on jacket from Stax Records and protected by an archival-quality, anti-static, non-scratching inner sleeve. New in-depth liner notes by veteran music writer and journalist A. Scott Galloway (Wax Poetics, Variety, Urban Network) complete the package.

Described by Galloway as “a searing souvenir of the art form, that will emphatically inspire into eternity,” Isaac HayesHot Buttered Soul has long been considered a landmark title in R&B—one that pushed the limits of soul music and influenced countless artists in its wake. Released in 1969, Hayes’ sophomore effort also served as a proper introduction to the artist, following his widely overlooked solo debut, Presenting Isaac Hayes (1968). After Hot Buttered Soul, there was only forward momentum for Hayes.

Nearly a decade earlier, Hayes (1942–2008) began his musical career behind the scenes, working as an in-house session musician and songwriter at Stax Records. There, he formed a highly successful writing partnership with David Porter, which resulted in some of the era’s biggest R&B hits, including “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Comin’” for Sam & Dave, “B-A-B-Y” for Carla Thomas, and “I Got to Love Somebody’s Baby” for Johnnie Taylor. By the close of the ’60s, however, Hayes was eager to embark on his own creative path.

“I always try to make my music interesting in the sense that you can’t figure out where I’m going,” Hayes told Galloway in 1995. “I don’t like people to second guess me. I had no formal training therefore I knew no boundaries. When you break the rules and go outside the box, you become innovative.”

 

Hayes recorded lead vocals and rhythm tracks in a single eight-hour session, during which he simultaneously served as lead vocalist, keyboardist (on the Hammond organ), and conductor. Performing alongside him at Memphis’ Ardent Studios were bassist James Alexander, drummer Willie Hall, and rhythm guitarist Michael Toles—all members of the recently reformed Bar-Kays—plus pianist Marvell Thomas (son of Rufus). The album, which was produced by Thomas, Al Bell, and Allen Jones, also featured lush orchestration (arranged by Johnny Allen) and soaring backing vocals—all of which were captured during additional sessions in Detroit.

Hot Buttered Soul is comprised of four tracks, split over two sides, beginning with a cover of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David classic, “Walk on By.” Originally an airy, three-minute-long hit for Dionne Warwick in 1963, the song was transformed by Hayes, who slowed it down and stretched it out into a psychedelic, 12-minute-long rumination on love and loss. Galloway describes the song as “a robust rhythm and blues roulade, marinated to soak through to the depths of your very soul.”

The mood and the pace pick up with “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic.” Co-written with [Stax president] Al Bell, this funky, swaggering number finds the artist at his most seductive—and, aptly, closes in a lengthy, climactic jam. Side B, meanwhile, opens with the reflective “One Woman.” Written by the married songwriting team of Charles Chalmers and Sandra Rhodes, the shortest track on the album (clocking in at five minutes) finds Hayes taking the point of view of a man caught in a love triangle, as he considers the two women he loves: his wife and his mistress.

The album closes out with one of Hayes’ great masterpieces: a 19-minute-long re-working of Jimmy Webb’sBy the Time I Get to Phoenix.” Given the framework, Hayes takes his time with the song, offering up an eight-minute-long spoken-word intro (really a sermon, as Galloway points out) before delving into the languid track and making it his own.

Completing the package was a now-iconic cover image, which presented Hayes as the star he was about to become. Shot from above, the photo captures the artist in an introspective moment: his shiny, shaved head in the foreground, followed by his signature gold sunglasses, gold chains, and bare chest. Inside, listeners would find something unlike anything they had heard before.

Released in the summer of 1969, Hot Buttered Soul proved to be an enormous success, despite its unusual format. In addition to spending over a year on the R&B chart (and topping it for ten weeks), the LP peaked at No.8 on the Billboard 200, sold over a million copies, and even crossed over onto the Jazz charts. Initially, Stax didn’t plan to release any singles around the album, but once it was clear that Hot Buttered Soul was a cultural phenomenon, the label issued edited-down versions of “Walk on By” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” as a double A-side

While the album garnered considerable acclaim upon its release, Hot Buttered Soul has only grown in significance over the decades. Among a variety of rankings and retrospectives, Pitchfork declared the album “A revolutionary classic of soul music,” while AllMusic hailed it as “An undeniably seminal record.” In 2020, Rolling Stone included the LP on their Greatest Albums of All Time list, calling it “An orchestral-soul watershed that forecast R&B’s turn toward symphonic excess and plush introspect.”

Along the way, countless others have found inspiration from Hot Buttered Soul, including a younger generation of hip-hop acts. Hayes’ interpretation of “Walk on By,” for instance, has been sampled 118 times by such revered artists as The Notorious B.I.G., Beyoncé, 2Pac, and Alicia Keys. “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic,” meanwhile appeared famously in Public Enemy’s “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” and DJ Quik’s “Born and Raised in Compton,” as well as in classic tracks by Ice Cube, N.W.A, and Tha Dogg Pound.

Hayes, meanwhile, would go on to find even greater success in the ’70s, releasing such best-selling titles as The Isaac Hayes Movement (1970), followed by the GRAMMY-winning Black Moses (1971) and Shaft soundtrack (1971). The groundbreaking score also earned Hayes an Academy Award, making him the first Black recipient of an Oscar® in a non-acting category. Throughout the rest of his life, Hayes continued to push musical and cultural boundaries, maintaining an active career as a recording artist and actor. Among countless honors and awards, Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2004, he was named a BMI Icon for his prolific and influential work as a songwriter, while in 2020, he was celebrated with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award by the Recording Academy.

 

 

Tracklist:

Side A:

  1. Walk on By
  2. Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic

Side B:

  1. One Woman
  2. By the Time I Get to Phoenix

 

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