With his name reaching a whole new audience thanks to "South Park," [Isaac Hayes's] label has just released a two-CD retrospective, "Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It?" to remind people that he is primarily a musician. "Especially younger people," Hayes, 63, said in a recent interview at the Los Angeles office of Concord Records, which recently bought the catalog of Hayes' old Stax Records label. "They don't know what I did. Only the hip-hop producers (do)."
The package features hit singles, album tracks, rarities and movie tunes spanning 1969 to 1975, including bold reinterpretations of pop standards like "By the "Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Walk On By" as well as his own "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic." All showcase his smooth, baritone voice, a seeming prerequisite for soul stardom. "People always said, 'Barry White ripped you off.' He did not," Hayes said. "We both had deep voices. In fact, we tried to say we're the Deep Throat Brothers! ... Lou (Rawls) came up with the idea that me, Barry and him do the Three Baritones. But Barry never did get around to that." [If only they could have done that! -JH]
...Hayes left Stax in a dispute over royalties in 1975, the year the faltering label went bankrupt. He himself filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter, and lost all his songwriting royalties. He plans to write a book about his financial woes. "I'll tell the whole damn story," he said darkly, but quickly brightened when he revealed that for the first time in years he would receive royalties for the new retrospective.
He also plans to write a series of children's books, titled "Adventures of Uncle Bubba" and is looking for a publisher. The album also boasts a rare foray into gospel with the tune "His Eye is on the Sparrow," which was a favorite of his grandfather's. Despite being born and raised in the Baptist Church, Hayes never focused on gospel after he joined Stax. These days, he's a Scientologist, having been involved with the religious movement for 14 years, and is working hard to move up through the grades.
His Isaac Hayes Foundation brings federally funded Scientology-based study techniques to underperforming inner-city schools in America, in partnership with fellow devotee Lisa Marie Presley. "But it's not religious, he said. "It's just something that people need."
All-time great songwriter, bold reinterpretations of pop standards, royalty disputes, known by many as a one-hit wonder, "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic," appearing in "South Park," writing children's book, converting to another religion: Isaac Hayes is Advanced.