The sheer tenacity -- albeit undeniably fitting -- of this double-disc set has made Black Moses (1971) one of Isaac Hayes' most revered and best-known works. The multi-instrumental singer/songwriter and producer had been a central figure in the Memphis soul music revolution of the mid-'60s. Along with Booker T. & the MG's, Hayes wrote and performed on more Stax sides than any other single artist. By the time of this release -- his fifth overall, and first two-record set -- Hayes had firmly established himself as a progressive soul artist. His stretched-out and well-developed R&B jams, as well as his husky-voiced sexy spoken "raps," became key components in his signature sound. Black Moses not only incorporates those leitmotifs, but also reaffirms Hayes abilities as an unmistakably original arranger. Although a majority of the album consists of cover material, all the scores have been reconfigured and adapted in such a fundamental way that, for some listeners, these renditions serve as definitive. This is certainly true of the extended reworkings of Jerry Butler's "Brand New Me" and Esther Phillips' "You're Love Is So Doggone Good" -- both of which are prefaced by the spoken prelude to coitus found in each respective installment of "Ike's Rap." The pair of Curtis Mayfield tunes -- "Man's Temptation" and "Need to Belong to Someone" -- are also worth noting for the layers of tastefully scored orchestration -- from both Hayes and his longtime associate Johnny Allen. The pair's efforts remain fresh and discerning, rather than the dated ersatz strings and horn sections that imitators were glutting the soul and pop charts and airwaves with in the mid-'70s. Hayes' own composition, "Good Love," recalls the upbeat and jive talkin' "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" from Hot Buttered Soul (1969), adding some spicy and sexy double-entendre in the chorus.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2