Black Moses (album)

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Black Moses
Studio album by Isaac Hayes
Released November 1971
Recorded March 1971–October 1971
Genre Soul
Length 93:38
Label Enterprise
Producer Isaac Hayes
Isaac Hayes chronology
Black Moses
Original LP
The LP's cover unfolds a poster-sized image of Hayes as "Black Moses". photo by Joel Brodsky[1]
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[2]
Clash (favorable)[3]
Paste (88/100)[4]
Pitchfork Media (8.7/10)[5]
Record Collector 5/5 stars[3]
Rolling Stone (unfavorable) 1972[6]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars 2008[3]
Spin (9/10)[7]
Uncut 3/5 stars[8]

Black Moses is the fifth studio album by Isaac Hayes. It is a double album released on Stax Records' Enterprise label in 1971. The follow-up to Hayes' successful soundtrack for Shaft (also a double album), Black Moses features Hayes' version of The Jackson 5's hit single "Never Can Say Goodbye". Hayes' version became a hit in its own right, peaking at number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100.


In addition to "Never Can Say Goodbye", other selections on Black Moses include covers of songs made popular by The Carpenters ("(They Long to Be) Close to You", Toussaint McCall ("Nothing Takes the Place of You"), The Friends of Distinction ("Going in Circles"), Dionne Warwick ("I'll Never Fall in Love Again"), and Little Johnny Taylor ("Part Time Love"). Hayes names Black Moses as one of his most personal works.[9]

The very same sample of "Ike's Rap II" was used in four tracks at about the same time in the mid-1990s: Hell Is Around The Corner by Tricky, Glory Box by Portishead, Jorge da Capadócia and Salve both by Brazilian rap group Racionais MC's.

The album's title derives from Stax executive Dino Woodward's nickname for Hayes, which he bestowed upon the musician after comparing the effects of his music on black audiences to the leadership of the biblical figure Moses.[9] The then deeply Christian Hayes shied away from the nickname, finding it "sacrilegious", [ WE MUST KEEP ONE VERY IMPORTANT REALIZATION...ISAAC HAYES...IS NOTHING LIKE THE REAL MOSES...THE MOSES IN THE BIBLE WAS CALLED BY GOD FOR A WAY DIFFERENT REASON...AGAIN...ISAAC HAYES IS (NOTHING-LIKE-THE-MOSES) IN THE BIBLE. [10] although journalist Chester Higgins popularized the "Black Moses" nickname in an article he wrote on Hayes for Jet. Hayes came to see "Black Moses" as a symbol of black pride:

"Black men could finally stand up and be men because here's Black Moses; he's the epitome of black masculinity. Chains that once represented bondage and slavery now can be a sign of power and strength and sexuality and virility"[9]

Larry Shaw, head of marketing and publicity at Stax, came up with the idea to name Hayes' LP Black Moses.[9] He also devised, with the assistance of Bar-Kays member Ron Gordon, a gatefold album cover design which unfolded into a poster-sized image of Hayes, dressed in biblical-inspired attire as "Black Moses".[9]

Track listing (Vinyl)[edit]

Side One[edit]

  1. "Never Can Say Goodbye" (Clifton Davis) - 5:07
  2. "(They Long to Be) Close to You" (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) - 8:58
  3. "Nothing Takes the Place of You" (Toussaint McCall, Alan Robinson) - 5:29
  4. "Man's Temptation" (Curtis Mayfield) - 4:59

Side Two[edit]

  1. "Never Gonna Give You Up" (Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, Jerry Butler) - 5:47
  2. Medley: "Ike's Rap II" / "Help Me Love" (Hayes, Johnny Baylor, Mickey Gregory, Luther Ingram, Tommy Tate) - 7:31
  3. "Need to Belong to Someone" (Mayfield) - 5:15
  4. "Good Love" (Gregory, Hayes) - 5:15

Side Three[edit]

  1. Medley: "Ike's Rap III" / "Your Love is So Doggone Good" (Hayes, Difosco Ervin, Rudy Love) - 9:15
  2. "For the Good Times" (Kris Kristofferson) - 5:20
  3. "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) - 5:02

Side Four[edit]

  1. "Part-Time Love" (Clay Hammond) - 8:30
  2. Medley: "Ike's Rap IV" / "A Brand New Me" (Isaac Hayes, Kenneth Gamble, Thom Bell, Jerry Butler) -9:40
  3. "Going in Circles" (Jerry Peters, Anita Poree) - 7:02

Incorrect track order on CD versions[edit]

Black Moses was released on compact disc for the first time in 1989 by Fantasy Records, who owned the Stax catalog at the time. The CD was remastered by Kirk Felton. The track order on CD was incorrect, placing the songs from side 4 of the LP between those of sides 1 and 2. When Black Moses was originally pressed, sides 1 and 4 were printed on the first LP while sides 2 and 3 were on the second; this process was common on albums released between 1966 and 1974 because it made it easier to play the sides in the correct order on the automatic record-changers of the day (see Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland as another example.)

Concord Music Group, which purchased the Stax masters through its merger with Fantasy in 2004, released a remastered CD version of Black Moses on February 24, 2009 in a digipak that simulates the original vinyl cover. Bob Fisher remastered the 2009 edition, but the track order is the same as the 1989 CD and not the original album.


  • Arranged by Isaac Hayes & Johnny Allen, except "(They Long To Be) Close to You" by Isaac Hayes & Dale Warren
  • Engineers: Ron Capone, William Brown, Henry Bush, Eddie Marion, Dave Purple
  • Remix engineers: Ron Capone, Dave Purple and Isaac Hayes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Planer, Lindsey (March 3, 2008). Review: Black Moses. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-12-28.
  3. ^ a b c Product notes – Black Moses. Muze. Retrieved on 2010-12-28.
  4. ^ Columnist (April 2, 2009). Review: Black Moses. Paste. Retrieved on 2010-12-28.
  5. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (March 4, 2009). Review: Black Moses. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2010-12-28.
  6. ^ Gersten, Russell (January 20, 1972). Review: Black Moses. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-12-28.
  7. ^ Hultkrans, Andrew (May 2009). "Review: Black Moses". Spin: 95.
  8. ^ Spencer, Neil (March 2009). Review: Black Moses. Uncut. Retrieved on 2010-12-28.
  9. ^ a b c d e Bowman (1997), p.237–240
  10. ^ Morgan Neville, Robert Gordon, and Mark Crosby [directors, writers, producers] (2007). Great Performances - Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story (TV documentary). New York City: Tremolo Productions, Concord Music Group, Thirteen/WNET New York.