Monday, August 11, 2008

RIP Isaac (and Esbjörn)

I first bought Hot Buttered Soul many, many years ago, probably early university years, following an article in the back pages of something like Uncut. I’m on my second copy now, having bought a remastered version (which thankfully didn’t smash the dynamics away) a couple of years ago. I seldom get all the way through it as an album, partly because of that nine-minute spoken-word introductory preamble to “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”, which, really, one only needs hear once in a lifetime, and partly because of the meandering-towards-tedious “One Woman”, but mostly because, by about nine-minutes into “Walk On By”, I’m generally rolling around on the floor wailing along, and simply can't take anymore. It needs to be played at inescapable volume. Phenomenal. “Theme From Shaft” is pretty good, too. What also needs to be mentioned is that Isaac wrote some 200 songs (in partnership with various other back-of-house staff) at Stax prior to going solo, including many BIG soul standards, including “Hold On, I’m Comin’”, and “Soul Man”. In all the talk of South Park, Scientology, and Hot Buttered Soul that will doubtless surround his death yesterday, that early silent songwriting career mustn’t be neglected.

As someone else so nicely put it, “Xenu needed a Thetan”. RIP, Isaac.

Also RIP Esbjörn Svensson, pianist and bandleader of e.s.t. (Esbjörn Svensson Trio), a genre-leading Swedish jazz group. He actually died in June, due to a scuba-diving accident, but I only found out yesterday when I spotted the cover of Jazzwise in Zavvi. Tuesday Wonderland, the trio’s last studio album, was one of my favourite records of 2006, and only a few months ago I’d given it some serious listening again. Isaac Hayes may be the more iconic and the more mourned recent musical death, but Svensson, 20-years Isaac’s junior, is arguably the biggest loss to music – he was still making excellent records and playing lauded shows, and seemingly had years of his career left.


Puppetmister said...

Hello. Nice new blog. I've linked to it from mine:

The only positive thing about the death of Isaac Hayes, apart from his jyous reunion with Xenu, obviously, is that it puts into perspective the sad passing of Bernie Mac. These celebrity deaths always happen in threes. I bet Cedric the Entertainer is crapping himself...

mike said...

I keep linking to it all over the place, but this really is the best Isaac Hayes tribute post you're ever likely to read anywhere.