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Isaac Hayes’ “Walk on by”

14 Δεκεμβρίου, 2019

First time I heard the song “Walk on by” it was by Dionne Warwick. I guess most of you who know the song share this same experience. It sounds quite old as it was first recorded back in 1963. You wouldn’t describe it as a pure “soul” song as the genre developed later in the sixties.

Since then it has been covered many times by people like Stan Getz or even the Stranglers. It is possible that you heard these versions in specialist shows.

However, there is one version that I had never heard before until a few years ago. Clocking more than 12 minutes long, it is natural that   music producers would not easily go for it, although a much shorter single was in fact released and charted back in 1969.

This was the year that the second album by Isaac Hayes was released. For those who don’t know the man, let it be said that his most well-known track is the classic “Theme from Shaft” released a couple of years later, with its unforgettable melody.

However, this album was different: 50 years ago, it was not very usual to have very long songs, especially in soul music. Long tracks had already been around in classic rock or early progressive rock albums but having a soul album with just 4 tracks the longest of which was more than 18 minutes long, was a wow occasion!

“Hot buttered soul” has since taken its position in the universe of legendary albums, and not without reason. “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic” is the nine and a half minute funky-psychedelic track that has been placed firmly in my top twenty best songs of all time since I first listened to it. Look for it, switch off the lights, turn the volume up and just enjoy.

This post though is for the second-best track of the album. Isaac Hayes’ version of “Walk on By”. The song is not just longer than the original. It is something completely different. It might help beginners realize what “soul” means, either through vocals or through massive orchestrations or through piano solos – piano was Hayes main instrument. And of course, rhythm!

“Psychedelic” might come to mind here too. The guitar solos are kind of weird but Hayes’ vocals, the backing vocals too, put the song firmly into the “soul” genre.

Still not an easy song. Not a song to get people partying, but I guess music is much more than this.

 

 

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