Isaac Hayes - Black Moses / 2CD set

2009 European CD reissue

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In the space of just 28 months, between early summer 1969 and November 1971, Isaac Hayes released five albums, of which two were double-LPs. All five records were huge hits that topped the US R&B charts, with one, Shaft, making No. 1 on the US album charts. Three others entered the main Top 10, while the lowest placed ranked just outside, at No. 11; four of them even topped the US Jazz chart, while the last released, Black Moses, made it to No. 2. This was success on a grand scale.

Black Moses was released as a double-album in late November 1971, and by early December it was climbing the Billboard chart to its No. 10 peak. And yet it remains somewhat overlooked today, perhaps suffering for following his brilliant first three solo albums for Stax Records, Hot Buttered Soul, The Isaac Hayes Movement and … To Be Continued – and not forgetting his groundbreaking Blaxploitation soundtrack for Shaft.

Black Moses was recorded between March and October 1971, in the middle of the period when Hayes recorded the Shaft soundtrack. But who came up with the idea of naming the album? According to Isaac Hayes it was Dino Woodard, one of his inner circle: “Dino said, ‘Man, look at these people out there. Do you know what you’re bringing into their lives? Look at these guys from Vietnam, man. How they’re crying when they see you, how you helped them through when they was out there in the jungle and they stuck to your music. You like a Moses, man. You just like Black Moses, you the modern-day Moses!’” Woodard, a former boxer and sparing partner of Sugar Ray Robinson, later became a Baptist minister; he passed away in 2014.

At a gig at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Hayes was even introduced to the audience as “Black Moses,” and while he found the term somewhat sacrilegious, he eventually came to embrace it following its use in an article in Jet magazine; Stax executive Larry Shaw had the savvy to capitalize on it and call the double album, Black Moses.

Going this route – saying, in effect, that he was the most important black artist in America – became something of a burden for Hayes. It’s worth remembering that, six months before he released Black Moses, Marvin Gaye put out the game-changing What’s Going On – this really was a time of intense creativity for soul music. Add to this the fact that Black Moses was released just a week or so after Shaft had topped the album charts… Hayes was in danger of overload.

Shaw, who was in charge of Stax’s art department, had made great strides in improving the label’s album cover art, but nothing he did before – or after – can compare with the artwork for Black Moses. It has been cited as one of the greatest album covers ever. Shaw dressed Hayes in robes and went for Moses-lookalike overkill when the photograph was shot. But what makes this cover so amazing is not simply the image, it is the fact that the two records were encased in a sleeve that folded out into the shape of a four-foot-high, three-foot-wide cross. For some, Hayes really was Moses!


SKU 888072312388
Barcode # 888072312388
Brand Stax / Craft Recordings

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