Main Review by Soulmakossa
Rip & Research, Posting and additional info’s by Nikos
After Stax Records parted ways with it’s distributor, Atlantic Records, in May of 1968, (following the death of Otis Redding), Isaac Hayes became on of the most bankable, diverse, and exciting stars on the newly independent label. Black Moses is proof of that. The rhythm of The Isaac Hayes Movement (featuring Hayes on keys supported by guitar, bass, bongos, congas, tambourines, drums, horns, and more keys) thrills as much as it chills. To make up for the lack of original material, songs from artists as diverse as Burt Bacharach, Kris Kristofferson, and Curtis Mayfield are given the Black Moses treatment.
This is deep-rooted and ground-shaking r&b
A1 Never Can Say Goodbye 5:07
A2 (They Long to Be) Close to You 8:57
A3 Nothing Takes the Place of You 5:29
A4 Man’s Temptation 5:02
B1 Never Gonna Give You Up 5:42
B2 Medley: Ike’s Rap II 2:10
Help Me Love 5:21
B3 Need to Belong to Someone 5:15
B4 Good Love 6-9969 5:15
C1 Medley: Ike’s Rap III 1:35
Your Love Is So Doggone Good 7:40
C2 For the Good Times 5:20
C3 I’ll Never Fall in Love Again 5:02
D1 Part-Time Love 8:30
D2 Medley: Ike’s Rap IV 2:10
A Brand New Me 7:30
D3 Going in Circles 7:02
Although not as revolutionary as ‘Hot Buttered Soul‘, and devoid of the consistent melancholy that graced ‘…To Be Continued‘, ‘Black Moses‘ still is a pivotal Isaac Hayes experience and easily ranks as one of the man’s finest records. It can at times, though, be a bit much to take in all at once.
You will find plenty of warm chestnuts here that perfectly demonstrate Isaac Hayes’ niche: setting soul grooves to a backdrop of lavish, orchestral arrangements. In my opinion, this treatment works best on a breezy, lounging cover of Burt Bacharach’s “(They Long to Be) Close to You” – which features a gutwrenching minor-keyed segment around the 3:43 mark, where Hayes launches into the ‘on the day that you were born’-part of the song.
Equally astonishing is an almost resigned, terribly moody take on Curtis Mayfield’s “Man’s Temptation“, featuring a heartbreaking, beautifully arranged outro where Hayes’ moaning and wailing is cushioned with sweet strings and angelic backing vocals.
Of the first disc of this double LP set, the other absolute highlights come on side B: a mindblowing, stretched out and gorgeously orchestrated rendition of Tommy Tate’s “Help Me Love” is preceded by one of Isaac’s best-known ‘intro raps’, the oft sampled “Ike’s Rap II“, that gloomy melody with its descending notes and spooky strings. Another Mayfield cover, “Need to Belong to Someone“, is brought with the same penache, whereas the gutbucket funk of “Good Love 6-9-9-6-9” is a welcome change of pace.
On the second instalment, the picking to me is decidedly slimmer. Hayes turns in a wonderful performance of the bitter-sweet pop ballad “For the Good Times“, and the lushly orchestrated finale “Going In Circles” is superb.
“A Brand New Me” is good if inessential, but the overtly mellow “Your Love Is So Doggone Good“, on the other hand, meanders on for too long, as does the re-vamp of the blues standard “Part-Time Love“.
In honesty, ‘Black Moses’ would have been a virtually perfect record if it had been skimmed down to a single LP. Nevertheless, seeing as to how many gems there are here and considering that even the less spectacularly executed tunes here still sound awfully sweet, its iconic status is much deserved.
You can also enjoy his masterpice “Hot Buttered Soul” in our back pages here.