In honor of what would have been Isaac Hayes’ 75th birthday this year, the Memphis-based Stax Records has released a four-CD box set that celebrates the soul singer’s artistry from 1962 to 1976.
The collection, which is titled The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976) “examines the various avenues of Hayes’ prolific career; each disc offering an in-depth look at his distinct musical contributions to both Memphis-based Stax Records and to the world at large: from his foundational presence as a songwriter and producer at Stax, to his artistic metamorphosis and subsequent rise to stardom,” a press release states.
The set also includes a replica 7″ vinyl single of the artist’s first commercially-released recordings, as well as a 60-page hardcover book that includes archival photos and new interviews from Stax luminaries Deanie Parker and Jim Stewart.
“The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976) is an attempt to frame a career that doesn’t always fit neatly together,” Joe McEwen, the producer of the compilation, said. “This box set is a little idiosyncratic, like its subject and the desire is to tell a story, put together in chapters, hopefully, to give context to a visionary talent who came of age in Memphis, Tennessee among a generational eruption of musicians that moved mountains.”
The third and fourth discs a part of the box set are sure to be a treat for devout Hayes fans, considering both have previously unreleased material. The third disc, which is titled “Cover Man,” features a studio version of “Windows of the World” and live covers of “Stormy Monday,” “I Stand Accused,” and “The Ten Commandments of Love,” which were all recorded at a 1972 concert in Chicago.
The fourth disc, titled “Jam Master,” includes unreleased work-in-progress versions of “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” and Bill Withers‘ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” as well as a never-before-heard composition from the Shaft soundtrack titled “Black Militant’s Place.”
The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976) is available at Amazon.