Isaac Hayes

U-Turn

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Long, long past his stellar 1970s heyday, by the mid-'80s Isaac Hayes was foundering. He was certainly still the master of his style, but, thrust out of his era and trying to bridge the gap by updating his sound, much of his 1980s output proved to be a deal-breaker for his fans. U-Turn hit the racks in 1986 and, from the absence of charting singles, apparently stayed there. Leaving behind the funky grooves of yesteryear but promoting their sweet soul undercurrents to the very fore, Hayes contemporized his sound on the perky opener "If You Want My Lovin', Do Me Right." The title was comforting, but the synth pop sonics must have been a shock to die-hard fans. There are some excellent turns, most notably his wrenching cover of the Freddie King classic "Hey Girl," which itself follows the latest installment in Hayes' "Ike's Rap" series of messages. This time, upset by the rampant drug use building during the decade, Hayes imbibed "Ike's Rap VIII" with a strong anti-crack message. Also of note is Hayes' take on the Four Seasons' "Can't Take My Eyes off You," which emerges as a quiet ballad orchestrated à la the Isaac Hayes Experience. At the end of the day, however, and despite the precious nuggets to be found on the album, there are far better ways to sample Isaac Hayes' delicacies than U-Turn -- which leads, of course, to the inescapable truth that this isn't Hayes' best period -- period.

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