Friday, August 15, 2008

Sounds Like New Orleans: The Meters

At one point featuring two of the Neville Brothers, the Meters were an early funk group based in New Orleans. In 1975, at arguably the peak of their popularity, they released an album called Fire On The Bayou.

Here's the title track:

R.I.P. Jerry Wexler

It's been a sad week for soul fans.

First Isaac Hayes passed away, and now comes the news that Atlantic Records giant Jerry Wexler has died at 91.

You can take your pick of Wexler's accomplishments: he reportedly coined the term 'rhythm and blues', presided over key phases in the careers of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and others, brought Dusty Springfield to town to record 'Dusty in Memphis', and was a major player in bringing the Stax and Muscle Shoals sounds to the wider world.

Oh, and for any non-soul fans out there: he also signed Led Zeppelin to Atlantic, and worked with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and more.

Here are a couple of crucial Wexler-related clips.

One of Ray Charles' earliest hits at Atlantic, 'I Got A Woman':

'I Never Loved A Man' was one of two tracks produced when Wex brought Aretha to FAME for the infamous Muscle Shoals session:

Word has it that Wexler once said he wanted only two words inscribed on his tombstone: "More bass." Rest in peace, Jerry.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More On Isaac Hayes, from The Root

While many Isaac Hayes obits focus on the Theme from Shaft, or on the Scientology controversy that led to Hayes' departure from South Park, this item from The Root (rightly) emphasizes his early role as a songwriter at Stax, and on the enormous impact of Hot Buttered Soul.

An Ode To Hot Buttered Genius

As an aside, it seems that most of my generation only knows Isaac Hayes as "Chef" - and that makes me nearly as sad as his death did.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

R.I.P. Isaac Hayes

After a long silence, it's a sad occasion that brings me back to the blog. Isaac Hayes has died, at age 65.

Best of the obits to come in a day or two, but in the meantime here are some favourite Hayes tracks.

Before he got into the performance side of things, Isaac Hayes was a songwriter at Stax. Alongside partner David Porter, he wrote most of Sam and Dave's greatest hits, including Hold On I'm Comin:

Stax's release of Hayes' first album, Hot Buttered Soul, was almost an afterthought. It turned out to be one of their greatest successes. Here's Walk On By:

Hayes won both an Oscar and a couple of Grammys for the Theme from Shaft:

Later in his career, Hayes voiced the singing Chef from South Park. Here's "Simultaneous":

Rest in peace, Isaac Hayes. There aren't many soul stars who can claim to have had a greater influence on popular music as a whole.