This week on My Classic Soul podcast, hosts Bethany Dawson and David Nathan, the British Ambassador of Soul, chat "bedroom soul" by diving into the catalog of two legendary love men of soul music: Barry White and Isaac Hayes.
ON THE BEGINNINGS OF ISAAC HAYES' MUSICAL CAREER:
NATHAN: "I mean, they just didn't, whatever ones kind of concept of what is a male sex symbol would look like - they didn't quite fit the bill in terms of their physical appearance.
"Isaac Hayes had an interesting history before he became a recording artist in his own right. He was actually one of the primary producers and songwriters at Stax records in Memphis, and as such, with his songwriting and producing partner, David Porter, he was responsible for hits with Sam and Dave, many Sam & Dave hits."
"In fact, the primary, almost all the old recordings, if not all the older recordings that Sam and Dave did at Stax records were done by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. And thinking about songs like, 'Soul Man.' 'I Thank You.' 'Hold On, I'm Coming.' 'You Don't Know Like I Know.' All these old classic Stax records. Isaac as a keyboard player and a primary melody maker with David Porter as a lyricist."
"How the story goes is one night, there was some extra studio time and Isaac's sitting at the piano and next thing we know, he had an album, called 'Presenting Isaac Hayes.'"
ON WHITE'S REVOLUTIONARY SOUND:
NATHAN: "Isaac does an album, probably one of the most groundbreaking albums of the time period."
"And that was 'Hot Buttered Soul,' 1969. And what was amazing is that it literally only had four tracks. And the one that immediately got resonance was walk on by his re-interpretation of the Dionne Warwick - well, Burt Bacharach / Hal David0penned classic from 1964 and he turned it into an opus."
"I mean, really just amazing string arrangements on there. I mean, the whole album was unlike anything that had ever been heard. And particularly at black radio in America. And Isaac, again, the front cover, he has a bald head, which is kind of - he was bald before it was fashionable. You know? It was really, that was what made it so revolutionary as again, much like some of the other artists of that time period that we've talked about on previous podcasts, like Roberta Flack."
"It was just a groundbreaking album. And I don't know that people expected it to be like a breakout, but it did become that and set the scene for Isaac to become this kind of whole new male sex symbol in particular because of his voice. I mean, anyone who knows Isaac Hayes knows that he has this very deep, baritone bass voice. It was appealing because there weren't that many other baritone bass singers."
ON THE STARTING POINT OF BARRY WHITE'S CAREER:
NATHAN: "He was a bit of a real bad boy in his youth. In fact, at some point, I think he went to prison. He was a member of gangs in LA. He was a hero. He was a hustler, real, like, you know, I don't know what else..."
DAWSON: "A hard nut."
NATHAN: "Yeah, a hard nut. I think he actually went to prison for stealing a Cadillac tires. And then he, and then he ended up owning Cadillacs. There you go."
"He was known, uh, particularly in LA, uh, as a, as a producer and songwriter. And he was actually, uh, had some success in Britain, not himself as an artist at that time, but with a female singer called Felice Taylor, and a song called, I'm Under the Influence of Love.'"
Anyway, the next thing we know, Barry White shows up as the producer and the main creative force behind a group called, Love Unlimited, which is a trio. Not quite like the Supremes, one could say, but very, you know, kind of, yeah - 'Walking in the Rain With the One I Love,' that was the first big hit by Love on Limited."
DAWSON: "You spoke about Isaac having a deep voice and yeah, he's in his own category. That's right. When I think of a stereotypical, male, sexy voice. All I think of is Barry White..."
Listen to the rest of the podcast here.