Tag Archives: Isaac Hayes

Downstairs at Prange’s

Imagine seeing a photo of something you thought existed only in memory. As you try to process it, the whole thing takes your breath away. Then you get catch your breath and settle down to scrutinizing the tiniest details of the photo.

So it is with this photo, posted earlier this month by the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center to its Facebook page. It carried this four-word caption: “Record department. H.C. Prange.”

When I grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in the ’60s and ’70s, everyone went down by Prange’s. It was the biggest department store in that city of 50,000 along Lake Michigan.

The record department was in the basement. You went down the main escalator and there it was, over to your right as you stepped off, a dazzling world of colorful and thrilling LPs spread out before you. 45s? Sure, but those you could get at the neighborhood dime store. Prange’s was the place where you came to ponder the mighty LP.

This photo is from 1969 or later. In the row going up diagonally from the lower left corner are the Beatles’ “Revolver” and “Magical Mystery Tour” and the Archies’ “Sugar Sugar,” the latter released as an import in 1969. I’d love to see this photo at higher resolution so I could try to ID some of the other records.

I never bought a lot of LPs at Prange’s — all I had was paper route money, and not much of it — but what I did buy were among the first albums I ever owned. I still have them all.

— I gave Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Cosmo’s Factory” LP to my friend Mike for his 13th birthday. It came out in July 1970. His birthday was in October. Truth be told, I’d wanted it for myself. Instead, I got Creedence’s “Green River,” which by then was a year old. It all worked out.

Neil Diamond’s “Tap Root Manuscript,” released in November 1970. I also was 13 and had been listening to AM Top 40 radio almost non-stop all that year.

— Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft” soundtrack, released in July 1971.

Wings’ “Wild Life,” released in December 1971.

Then there’s this.

When I was 13, I was tempted by, perhaps even obsessed with, Janis Joplin’s “Pearl.” It had been released in January 1971, midway through my eighth-grade year. I liked the music. Mostly, though, I thought her pose on the cover was kind of hot — and, yes, I already had some sense of someone being a hot mess — and I really didn’t want to try to explain that to my parents.

So I never bought “Pearl” at Prange’s. Truth be told, it’s only been in the last 10 years that I finally bought “Pearl.” I’ve since bought three or four copies, always looking for a cover in a bit nicer condition than the one before.

Maybe I’ll even frame it someday. It tells quite a story about a young record digger, even if only he recognizes it.

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Filed under November 2018, Sounds

I’m still talking ’bout Shaft

This week marks 10 years of doing business on this increasingly lightly traveled corner of the web.

If you’re looking for something from Ten Years After or anything from Neil Young’s “Decade,” well, sorry.

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It was 10 years ago Sunday that we had the first audio clip here. Appropriately enough, it was John Williams’ theme to the old “Time Tunnel” TV show. The blog post that accompanied it was little more than practice. The image that topped that post is long gone, the boy in the picture on the verge of grad school.

It was 10 years ago yesterday that we had the first real tunes here, something from what was perhaps the second or third LP I ever bought, way back in 1971.

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“Walk From Regio’s,” Isaac Hayes, from the “Shaft” soundtrack, 1971.

In 10 years of record digging since we got started here, I’ve been looking out for interesting “Shaft” covers. This is one.

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“Bumpy’s Lament,” Soul Mann and the Brothers, from “Shaft,” 1971. Soul Mann actually was Sy Mann, a New York arranger, conductor and keyboard player. Strictly a studio knockoff on the Pickwick label, which I usually avoid, but fun to have found. Just a little different sound.

As for all that record digging, some good news. We are back in business when it comes to ripping all those old records, thanks to a new turntable just installed last weekend. Here’s the first thing ripped on that new turntable. Its volume may not be perfect. Still getting used to it.

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“Finger Poppin’,” Ike and Tina Turner, from “Live! The Ike & Tina Turner Show,” 1965. I’m always looking out for cool Ike and Tina records, and this certainly qualifies. It was recorded live at The Skyliner Ballroom, Fort Worth, Texas, and Lovall’s Ballroom in Dallas.

When I posted on Facebook that I’d found it at the Milwaukee record show a couple of weeks ago, my friend Larry Grogan of the mighty Funky 16 Corners blog offered this instant review: “Great album. … Great snapshots of a mid-’60s soul revue, multiple singers, cover songs.”

Which reflects perhaps the greatest joy of 10 years of doing this blog — getting to know and being part of a good group of like-minded record diggers and music buffs. I’ve met JB from The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ and Greg from Echoes in the Wind in real life and still hope to meet those on the coasts and elsewhere.

More to come.

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Filed under February 2017, Sounds

Strange how things turn out

They were older guys who liked hassling younger kids for no apparent reason. Bullies, I guess.

You really couldn’t complain about them. To whom? Their parents? No way. Your parents? They’d just tell you to stay away from the guy. You just had to get a little tougher and perhaps a little smarter.

Maybe all they wanted to do was get into your head. If so, they succeeded. They’re still in there, four of them, 40 years on.

Two of these guys were bad news from the neighborhood. Hot-headed, unpredictable “stay off my property” types. The other two were from school. One of them stole my wallet. The other guy walked up to me one day, eyed up the star on my sweatshirt and punched me right smack in the middle of the chest.

You just never know what’s going on with someone, what’s in their head, what’s going on at home. So I took my parents’ advice and steered clear of those guys. Eventually, everyone went on with their lives.

Yet quite by happenstance, I know the rest of the story for all four of those guys.

The cat who punched me in the chest turned out to be a real nice guy. He’s dead.

The neighborhood guys turned out to be blue-collar workers and good family men. They’re dead, too. One of them, just the other day.

The guy who stole my wallet is the only one left, as far as I know. Which is about the nicest thing that can be said about him. This gent has lots of experience with the Wisconsin court system.

You wouldn’t have wished any of that on any of them in a million years.

Peace, out.

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“Title Theme (from ‘Three Tough Guys’),” Isaac Hayes, from “Tough Guys,” 1974. It’s out of print as such, but is available on this double CD with the soundtracks from “Three Tough Guys” and “Truck Turner,” a pair of 1974 films starring Hayes and featuring music by him. Also available digitally.

I don’t have this record. My copy of “Title Theme” came off the Oxford American 10th anniversary music sampler, which was a 2-CD set released in 2008 featuring music by Southern artists. This is from the Past Masters CD.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under January 2013, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 38

The storm is starting.

For now, the snow is light, dusting our yard and our streets. We’re expected to get at least a foot of snow by the time the storm ends tomorrow night.

So, we’d better put three under the tree before the snow gets too deep.

“Winter Snow,” Isaac Hayes, 1970, from “Christmas in Soulsville,” 2007. On which Mr. Hayes is bummed out, having encountered a former lover with “lips so warm and a heart as cold as a winter snow.” It’s the B side to “The Mistletoe and Me,” his Christmas single from that year. The CD is a fine compilation of Stax Christmas tunes from the ’60s and ’70s.

“Winter (Basse Dance),” Blackmore’s Night, from “Winter Carols,” 2006. On which Ritchie Blackmore, the former Deep Purple and Rainbow guitarist, proves he’s indeed a Renaissance man. This is a graceful, elegant instrumental. It’s a bit like the John Fahey tunes sampled in Vol. 37.

“In Like A Lion (Always Winter),” Relient K, from “Let It Snow, Baby … Let It Reindeer,” 2007. On which you think the kids might be learning a few things from Jackson Browne. It’s not really a Christmas or holiday tune, and certainly not Relient K’s familiar pop-punk, but rather a laid-back, reverent reflection on winter and hope.

We’ll save “Winter Wonderland” for another day. It’s rarely a wonderland when you have to shovel it just so you can get into the driveway when you come home from work late at night.

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Filed under December 2009, Sounds

The 3 uses for love songs

Though I’m almost certainly not cool enough for the room, my friend Scholar over at the fine Souled On blog nevertheless graciously invited me to take part in a series called “Love Lockdown.”

Here’s what I wrote. If you’re a regular reader of AM, Then FM, you may recognize echoes of posts from the past …

Love songs, eh? There are but three uses for love songs.

The love song as a guide to life.

When a 13-year-old kid in Wisconsin started listening to the radio in 1970, love songs spoke to him. They helped that kid – who had no older brothers and no sisters – navigate social situations for which there were no instructions. Some love songs coached him on what to say, how it say it and when to say it. Other love songs simply were eye-openers.

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“We’ve Got To Get It On Again,” the Addrisi Brothers, 1972. Available on “We’ve Got to Get It On Again,” a 1997 compilation CD. (This is an improved rip from the one I posted a year ago. No more skip.)

Lessons also learned from: “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, 1972; “Me and Mrs. Jones,” Billy Paul, 1972; “Show and Tell,” Al Wilson, 1973; and “Third Rate Romance,” the Amazing Rhythm Aces, 1975.

The love song as soundtrack.

The soundtrack to a certain time spent with a certain girl. The soundtrack to a six-week romance during that Wisconsin kid’s senior year in high school. These love songs weren’t for that certain girl. Rather, they were on the radio as that kid eagerly drove to her house and then floated home again. Hearing them, those six weeks rush back.

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“Everlasting Love,” Carl Carlton, from “Everlasting Love,” 1974.

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“You’re The First, The Last, My Everything,” Barry White, 1974, from “Barry White’s Greatest Hits,” 1975.

Other soundtrack selections: “When Will I See You Again,” the Three Degrees, 1974; and “Laughter in the Rain,” Neil Sedaka, 1974.

The love song as mood music.

As the ‘70s ended, that Wisconsin kid was a senior in college, where he met another girl. He spent time at her house, too. They never made it much beyond than her couch, except when it was time to flip the record. They’re still together all these years later. Yet to say they have a song that’s theirs is a bit of a stretch. Well, this was on in the background.

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“Affirmation,” George Benson, from “Breezin’,” 1976.

Other mood music: Uhhh, what? “This Masquerade,” George Benson, 1976. Oh, yeah, and Blondie’s “Parallel Lines” album from 1978 and “Squeezing Out Sparks” by Graham Parker and the Rumour from 1979.

And some double album on which I cleaned the dope. It wasn’t this record, but I once fancied this some pretty sweet mood music, too.

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“Cafe Regio’s,” Isaac Hayes, from from “Shaft” original soundtrack, 1971.

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Filed under February 2009, Sounds

Shaft and the paper boy

Peering far into the distance on this Vinyl Record Day, this is how a vinyl record collection starts.

You are 14 and just beginning ninth grade. Your constant companion after school is the Top 40 AM radio of the day, as cranked out on WOKY, The Mighty 92, out of Milwaukee.

One day in the early fall of 1971, your mind is blown by a driving mix of high-hat drums, gritty wah-wah guitar, elegantly orchestrated horns and strings, a deep baritone lead vocal and angelic backup vocals.

It is, of course, “Theme from Shaft,” by Isaac Hayes.

So I took some of my paper route money, went downtown to Prange’s, went down to the record department in the basement and bought the soundtrack to “Shaft” by Isaac Hayes.

Every note, every nuance of “Shaft” was seared into memory, and is still there. You get to know your albums intimately when you have only four.

At the time, “Shaft” sat next to Neil Diamond’s “Tap Root Manuscript,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Green River” and “The Best of Bill Cosby” on the shelf in my bedroom. I played those four records over and over, committing them to memory, getting the grooves down.

“Shaft” had the most groove, of course. So much so that I envisioned it as the music I’d play if I ever got some time alone with a certain girl. In the fall of 1971, that was just a 14-year-old’s wishful thinking, and that is exactly what it remained.

The sophistication I never got to express to that certain girl instead helped shape my record collection. The soul, R&B and jazz on the four sides of “Shaft” introduced me to those genres in ways the Top 40 did not, forging some eclectic tastes that remain to this day.

I’d like to say I continued to buy funk, soul and R&B albums that were every bit as adventurous as “Shaft” seemed to a 14-year-old. But no.

A couple of months I bought “Shaft,” we moved to another part of Wisconsin. I left behind Top 40 AM radio and moved on to free-form FM radio. What I learned of funk, soul and R&B after that was what hit the charts and got daytime radio play, or whatever I heard in the clubs, which in central Wisconsin in the mid-’70s was much the same.

Now I’m trying to make up for lost time. As I go crate digging, I’m most often looking for funk, soul and R&B records I should have bought long ago. I look for, but rarely find, anything by Isaac Hayes. In our once-all-too-white corner of Wisconsin, few people bought funk, soul and R&B albums when they came out. That makes them hard to find today.

Last Friday afternoon, a younger gent and I were looking for similar things as we dug through boxes of dollar records in a tent in the back yard of one of our local record sellers. It already had been a big day for me, with records by Curtis Mayfield and MFSB in my stack. The other gent had records by Marvin Gaye and Earl Klugh.

Then I noticed he’d added the “Shaft” soundtrack to his stack. Those same four sides by Isaac Hayes. I’d been through that box before him, saw “Shaft” and thought: “There’s something you never see.”

“You familiar with that?” I asked him.

“Yeah, a little bit,” he said.

I took that to mean he knows “Theme from Shaft.”

“Oh, you’re really gonna like it,” I said.

“That was one of the first records I ever bought when I was a kid.”

“Shaft” has moved 10 times with me since 1971, and it’s still sitting here in the office, just behind me.

“Shaft” was the first album I wrote about here at AM, Then FM.

Please enjoy a couple of tunes from “Shaft.” Lord knows I have.

“Walk from Regio’s” and “Cafe Regio’s,” Isaac Hayes, from “Shaft” original soundtrack, 1971.

Isaac Hayes, Aug. 20, 1942-Aug. 10, 2008.

All this, and the Duke, too. Peace, my man.

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Filed under August 2008, Sounds

Spinning wheels, spinning records

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Come 7 a.m. Saturday, I’ll be in Two Harbors, Minnesota, trying to stay warm — the overnight low is expected to be 31 — and waiting to start the NorthShore Inline Marathon.

We skate 26.2 miles from the outskirts of Two Harbors into Duluth, most of it along Lake Superior on old Scenic Highway 61. When we get into Duluth, we skate the last 3 miles on the southbound lanes of Interstate 35, which is closed to its usual traffic just for our event.

This will be my 12th marathon, and my 10th in Duluth. I’m not an elite skater. Far from it. The elite skaters usually cross the finish line when I’m only halfway, still 13.1 miles out. I train all summer, and still I go slow.

(The photo above is from the start of the 1998 NorthShore Inline Marathon, my first one. I’m the guy in the bright gold Packers shorts at lower right.)

Some of my fellow skaters have their iPods on their belt and their earbuds under their helmet. Not me, and solely for safety reasons.

Much as I would love to have tunes while skating, it’s more important that I hear someone coming from behind, or from the side. Especially while skating on a two-lane road with 3,200 people.

If I did burn a mix that would get me through more than 2 hours of skating, it would be heavy on TV and movie themes. You know, the dramatic, often upbeat music that pulled you into the show. Believe it or not, kids, there was a time when TV intros ran at least a minute each and the outros weren’t banished to a tiny portion of the screen.

Whether for the music or the show or both, hope these bring back some memories. All the albums and CDs mentioned below are out of print.

“Theme from S.W.A.T.,” Rhythm Heritage, from the ABC-TV show that ran from 1975 to 1976. I found this cut a while back over at Palms Out Sounds.

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The next three cuts are from “Television’s Greatest Hits,” a 1985 double-LP compilation of 65 TV themes from the ’50s and ’60s.

“The Mod Squad,” Earle Hagen, from the ABC-TV show that ran from 1968 to 1973.

“Mannix,” Lalo Schifrin, the TV edit from the CBS-TV show that ran from 1967 to 1975.

“The Jetsons,” Hanna-Barbera, with Bud Brisbois on that wild trumpet, from the ABC-TV show that ran from 1962 to 1963, then forever in reruns. Perhaps the best cartoon theme ever. This version might be the intro and the outro edited together.

The next two cuts are from “Crime Stoppers: TV’s Greatest P.I. Themes,” a TV Land compilation, 2000.

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“Mannix,” Lalo Schifrin, a more complete version of the song.

“Harry O,” the John Gregory Orchestra, from the ABC-TV show that ran from 1974 to 1976.

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“The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest,” Hanna-Barbera, from the Cartoon Network show that ran in 1996. It was a bad revival of the cartoon that originally ran on ABC in 1964 and 1965, but it had a great new theme. This cut is from “Cartoon Network Cartoon Medley,” a 1999 compilation of 38 cartoon themes from the ’40s to the ’90s.

The last two cuts are from a Mojo magazine compilation, “Mojo 2002-06: The Score.”

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“The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” David Shire, from the 1974 film of the same name. The soundtrack was issued on CD in 1996.

And, finally, one of our favorites (or guilty pleasures):

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“Truck Turner,” Isaac Hayes, from the 1974 film of the same name. The soundtrack was issued on CD in 2002.

Roll credits: The title of today’s post is adapted from an original idea by Evan Ash.

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Filed under September 2007, Sounds