Isaac Hayes - Let's Stay Together (Enterprise 9045)
Let's Stay Together
Here's another superb example of the interaction between Stax and Hi.
Like I was saying over on the other side, Al Green's Let's Stay Together was an unqualified smash. Released in December of 1971, it would go on to spend four months on the R&B charts, including nine weeks in the number one position, while climbing it's way to the top of the pop charts for a week in February of 1972. To say that it was a big hit would be an understatement. It was a phenomenon. A landmark record in so many ways, it ushered in a new era in the history of Memphis Soul. Written by Al Green, Al Jackson and Willie Mitchell, it represented the culmination of everything that had gone before it, and altered the landscape of R&B in the process.
Another record that had done something along those same lines was the Theme From Shaft, which had topped the pop charts itself just three months before, transforming Isaac Hayes from a little known songwriter and performer into an iconic figure who lived up to the moniker Black Moses. Do Your Thing, the follow-up single taken from the Shaft album, would go to #3 R&B during the same time frame that Al Green owned the top slot for those two months in early 1972. This sweet cover of Al's monumental recording would be Isaac's next release.
I just love it.
According to the label, the orchestra on here was conducted by the legendary Onzie Horne, who had worked with Duke Ellington before becoming a professor of music at Rust College, where he taught the young Willie Mitchell a thing or two about arrangements. Isaac doesn't sing on the record, because that's him playing that smoky alto saxophone! How very cool is that? Conceived, I'm sure, as a shout out to all involved, it spent two months of its own on the R&B charts, peaking at #25 that spring.