Hot Buttered Soul

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Hot Buttered Soul
Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul Album Cover.jpg
Studio album by Isaac Hayes
Released September 23, 1969
Recorded June–July 1969
Ardent Studios
(Memphis, Tennessee)
Tera Shirma Studios
(Detroit, Michigan)
Genre Soul
Length 45:24
Label Enterprise
Producer Al Bell, Marvell Thomas, Allen Jones
Isaac Hayes chronology
Presenting Isaac Hayes
Hot Buttered Soul
The Isaac Hayes Movement
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau (C)[2]
The Daily Vault (A)[3]
MusicHound 5/5 stars[4]
Paste (magazine) (9.7/10)[5]
Pitchfork Media (9.2/10)[6]
Rhapsody (favorable)[7]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[8]
Virgin Encyclopedia 4/5 stars[9]
Yahoo! Music (favorable)[10]

Hot Buttered Soul is Isaac Hayes' second studio album. Released in 1969, it is recognized as a landmark in soul music.[1][11]


Hayes' 1968 solo debut, Presenting Isaac Hayes, had been a poor seller for the record label Stax Records, and Hayes was about to return to his behind-the-scenes role as a producer and songwriter, when the label suddenly lost its entire back catalog after splitting with Atlantic Records in May 1968.

Stax executive Al Bell decided to release an almost-instant back catalog of 27 albums and 30 singles at once, and ordered all of Stax's artists to record new material, encouraging some of Stax's prominent creative staff, including Hayes and guitarist Steve Cropper, to record solo albums.

After feeling burned by the retail and creative flop of his first album, Hayes told Bell that he would not record a follow-up or any other album unless he was granted complete creative control. Since Bell had encouraged Hayes to record Presenting... in the first place, he readily agreed.


Much of the final production was done as part of the package of products brought to Detroit by producer Don Davis to expedite the production process. The strings and horns were arranged by Detroit arranger, Johnny Allen. The producers were looking for a sweeping orchestral sound that would enhance the rock solid rhythm tracks. The project strings and horns were recorded at United Sound Studios by engineer Ed Wolfrum with vocals and final mix at Terra-Shirma by engineer Russ Terrana. The pre-delay reverberation technique, recorded in part by Terry Manning on the tracking session, had been used at Artie Fields productions in Detroit in late 1950s, and at Columbia Records; it was also used by Wolfrum and others for numerous productions and commercials previous and after the release of this project including the Marvin Gaye What's Going On project, with orchestration also recorded at United. Russ Terrana went on to the engineering staff of Motown Records and was responsible for the recording and mixing of many hits on that label.


The album only had four tracks when it was released, and two extended tracks per side. Side one began with a extended twelve-minute cover of the Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic, "Walk On By". "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic", an uptempo funk song with wah-wah guitar and rolling pianos, had the benefit of being another long soulful jam, clocking in at over nine minutes.

With side two, "One Woman", at just over five minutes and being the shortest track on the album, focused on the pangs of infidelity. Finally, an extended eighteen plus minute reinterpretation of Jimmy Webb's country music composition "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", closes the album. The song is unique in that it begins with an eight-minute spoken introduction with a very low sounding mix, the song slowly builds to a climax of horns, strings, organs and vocals.

(On most commonly heard versions of this song, there is an edit before the lyric "when he reached the age of maturity..." during the spoken intro, and early vinyl pressings of the album do not feature this edit, yet reveal a brief section that includes a technical error, where the sustained organ note briefly drops out.)

Musical style[edit]

The album was notable for its use of innovative Bell/Hayes production and Terry Manning engineering techniques, and has deeply influenced a great deal of subsequent soul, hip hop and Motown music. Both "Walk On By" and "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" have been sampled extensively, the former showing up on tracks by the likes of Compton's Most Wanted, 3rd Bass, MF DOOM, Wu-Tang Clan, Hooverphonic and Notorious B.I.G., while the latter song was sampled by Public Enemy for "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos".

Uses in film[edit]

"Walk On By" appears in the end credits of Kern Saxton's 2012 film, Sushi Girl.[12] "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" also appears on the soundtrack to the film Zodiac, while "Walk On By" appears along with Hayes' version of "The Look of Love" on the soundtrack to the film Dead Presidents. Hooverphonic uses a sample from "Walk on By" for their hit "2Wicky" that appears on the soundtrack for "I Know What You Did Last Summer". Drops in at an absolutely crucial moment in the film The Interview.


Audiophile label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissued Hot Buttered Soul in SACD format in 2003.


American punk icon Henry Rollins has frequently referred to Hot Buttered Soul as being one of his all time favorite albums; Rollins would later interview Hayes for his book Do I Come Here Often? (ISBN 1-880985-61-6)."Hot Buttered Soul" was also sonically revolutionary, embraced by not only soul music lovers but, indeed, rock radio as well. Released at the dawn of progressive radio via the emboldening FM band, the electronic aspects of "Walk on By" found favor with rock fans of George Harrison's eclectic "Wonderwall Music" perhaps searching for something more melodic as well.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
  1. "Walk On By" (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) – 12:03
  2. "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" (Isaac Hayes, Alvertis Isbell) – 9:38
Side two
  1. "One Woman" (Charles Chalmers and Sandra Rhodes) – 5:10
  2. "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" (Jimmy Webb) – 18:42



  1. ^ a b Birchmeier, Jason. "Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Robert Christgau Review
  3. ^ The Daily Vault Review
  4. ^ MusicHound Review
  5. ^ Paste Review
  6. ^ Nate Patrin (June 29, 2009). "Isaac Hayes: Hot Buttered Soul". Pitchfork Media. 
  7. ^ Rhapsody Review
  8. ^ Rolling Stone Review
  9. ^ Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music Review
  10. ^ Yahoo! Music Review
  11. ^ Easlea, Daryl (2009). "Isaac Hayes Hot Buttered Soul Review". BBC. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "Fantasia 2012". Montreal Film Journal.