In 1969, when Stax was entering its period of independence from Atlantic Records, Isaac recorded Hot Buttered Soul, a solo album that was unlike anything on the market. Its album art indicated a difference: In an era of gigantic afros, the cover featured a shot of Hayes’ bald head, demure, reflective.
The whole album had only four songs, including his 18-minute treatment of “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” a song Glen Campbell had recently put on the country music charts. Though Isaac’s album was conceived without any thoughts for a single, it got late-night FM airplay, and the edited version of “Phoenix” became a surprise hit, as did his interpretation of the Motown song “Walk on By.” The album rose to the top of the sales chart, and Isaac Hayes leapt from writer/producer to star.
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