Wrap It Up-The Isaac Hayes and David Porter Songbook.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: CD.

Release Date: 30th September 2022.

One of the most important songwriting partnerships in the history of Stax Records was Isaac Hayes and David Porter. They started writing together towards the end of 1964, and success came quickly for the pair when they teamed up with Raymond Moore to write How Do You Quit (Someone You Love) for Carla Thomas. The single reached number thirty-nine in the US R&B charts. This was just the start for the nascent songwriting partnership.

Over the next five-and-a-half years, Isaac Hayes and David Porter wrote over fifty songs. This included many hit singles and soul classics. Other tracks were album tracks or ended up or B-Sides. However, some of the pair’s best known songs won a various awards and accolades. What became one of Stax Records’ most important and successful partnerships had come a long way.

Nowadays, both men are celebrated in their home town. There’s a street named after David Porter, and part of Interstate 40 was posthumously renamed ‘The Isaac Hayes Memorial Highway.’ This is fitting given the part the two men played in the Memphis music industry and the rise of Stax Records.

David Porter originally worked in a grocery shop opposite Stax Records. However, all his free time was spent in the studio where he tried to convince staff of his potential as a singer and songwriter. Eventually his persistence paid off and landed a job at Stax Records. So did his future songwriting partner, Isaac Hayes.

He also wanted to pursue a career as a singer and songwriter. Isaac Hayes’ introduction to Stax Records was when he was the pianist in tenor saxophonist Floyd Newman’s band. Before that, he applied to be the lead vocalist in doo wop band The Ambassadors, and with blues band Calvin and The Swing Cats. Despite becoming one of the most successful singer and songwriters of his generation, he never landed either role. However, it wasn’t long before success came Isaac Hayes’ way.

This came after he met David Porter at Stax Records, and the pair embarked upon a songwriting partnership towards the end of 1964. They eventually wrote over fifty hit singles for artists signed to Stax Records. This included Carla and Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, The Soul Children, William Bell, The Emotions and Mable John. However, the pair also wrote a string of hits for one of the most successful soul duos, Sam and Dave.

Stax Records was distributed by Atlantic Records, which was the label that soul men Sam Moore and Dave Prater were signed to. A decision was made by Atlantic to “lend” the duo known to soul fans as Sam and Dave to Stax. It was hoped that the pair would be a beneficiary of the Stax sound. 

Sam and Dave were paired with Isaac Hayes and David Porter between 1966 and 1969. By then, the pair had forged a successful songwriting and production partnership. They were at the peak of their powers and it turned out to be a fruitful period for Sam and Dave. They enjoyed twelve consecutive pop and R&B hits and albums were peppered with Hayes and Porter compositions. The pair had the Midas touch. However, nothing lasts forever.

After five-and-a-half years and over fifty songs it was the end of the road for the Isaac Hayes and David Porter songwriting partnership. 

The partnership was over by mid-1969. By then, Isaac Hayes had just released his hugely successful Hot Buttered Soul album which launched his solo career and was the start of period when he could do wrong. However, the pair had enjoyed a successful songwriting partnership that played its part in the rise and rise of Stax Records. 

After the pair went their separate ways, it was Isaac Hayes who went on to bigger and better things. Between 1969 and 1973 four of the five albums he released topped the US R&B charts and Joy was certified gold. Isaac Hayes was by far the most successful artist signed to Stax or one of it imprints.

Sadly, in early 1975 Stax Records was no more. The label became insolvent and was bankruptcy proceedings began. 

Up until the demise of Stax Records, David Porter continued to work as a singer, songwriter and producer at the label. He had worked with new songwriting partners and including label executive Don Davis. The pair cowrote the Guide Me Well for Carla Thomas which was the penultimate hit the label had. 

Nearly ten years earlier, Carla Thomas had enjoyed a hit with How Do You Quit (Someone You Love) which Isaac Hayes and David Porter wrote with Raymond Moore. A lot had happened since then, and in the intervening years the pair had written themselves into soul music history. 

Since then, this successful songwriting and production partnership is remembered for the five-and-a-half years spell where they could do no wrong, and were at the peak of their powers.  Their partnership is celebrated on Wrap It Up-The Isaac Hayes and David Porter Songbook which will be released by Ace Records as part of their Songwriter Series on ‘30th’ September 2022.

There’s twenty-four tracks on Wrap It Up-The Isaac Hayes and David Porter Songbook. It features contributions from familiar faces including many who were signed to Stay Records during its glory days. There’s also tracks by Aretha Franklin, Charlie Rich, Delaney and Bonnie, Peter Frampton, Rachel Sweet and ZZ Top on this latest instalment in the long-running and successful Songwriter Series.

Opening the compilation is Sixty Minutes Of Your Love by Homer Banks. He covered this Isaac Hayes and David Porter composition for Minit in 1966. This driving, soulful dancer was recorded at the Royal Studios, in Memphis, but when it was released failed to find an audience. However, nowadays it’s a favourite of UK soul fans and is akin to a call to dance.

The Emotions recorded As Long As I’ve Got You for Volt but the song lay unreleased until 2004. That was when this demo made its debut on the compilation Songs Of Innocence and Experience…and Then Some. The arrangement is spartan and its understated sound allows the vocals to take centrestage and shine.

When Freddie King released his album Texas Cannonball on Shelter Records, in 1972, it featured Can’t Trust Your Neighbour. It’s a slow, moody blues with a soul-baring vocal that’s like a hurt-filled confessional from the late Texan blues man.

Originally, Isaac Hayes and David Porter wrote You’re Taking Up Another Man’s Place for Mable Johns. However, in 1986 the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin covered the song. Her bewitching and captivating cover appeared on her album The Delta Meets Detroit: Aretha’s Blues.

Sam and Dave’s version of Hold On I’m Coming is regarded as a soul classic. However, in 1967 The Righteous Brothers covered the song which was released as a single on Verve. The song is slower but the vocals are delivered with power, passion and intensity as they breath new life into a familiar song.

It was Sam and Dave last single for Stax Records was I Thank You. However, in 1979 the song was covered by Houston-based group ZZ Top for their album Degüello. It featured on their first album for Warner Bros, and when it was released as single reached thirty-four in the US Billboard 100. The song is a mixture of blues rock, Texas blues and classic rock which the group had developed during the seventies during their time signed to London Records.

Isaac Hayes and David Porter wrote Never Like This Before with Booker T Jones. The song was originally recorded by William Bell. After this, the song was covered by a number of artists including Louisiana’s R&B Queen Marcia Ball. She transforms the song into an irresistible, hook-laden dancer on her album Hot Tamale Baby which was released by Rounder in 1985.

When Stax Records released Sam and Dave’s Soul Man in 1967, the single reached number two on Billboard 100 and topped US R&B. Fifty-five years later and the song is a soul classic that’s a favourite of DJs and has also been covered by over eighty artists.

After the success of Hot Buttered Soul, Isaac Hayes decided to concentrate on his solo career.  This marked the end of his songwriting partnership with David Porter. However, one of the last songs they wrote was The Sweeter He Is (Parts 1 and 2) which was recorded by The Soul Children. It featured on their 1969 eponymous debut album when it was released on Stax Records. This beautiful song features a heartfelt vocal that’s bristling with emotion and is full of intensity. It’s a timeless track and was, without doubt, one of the highlights of the album. 

Something Is Wrong With My Baby was recorded by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas in 1966 and featured on their Queen and King album which was released by Stax in 1967. The song is a stunning slice of Southern Soul that epitomises everything that’s good about the genre. 

During his career, the Silver Fox, Charlie Rich recorded everything from rockabilly, soul, jazz, blues, soul and country music, a genre which he helped transform. However, in 1966 he was signed to Hi and recorded Love Is After Me. This soulful dancer was his only single for the label and showcases his talent and versatility.

I’m Dedicating My Life by Danny White closes Wrap It Up-The Isaac Hayes and David Porter Songbook. It’s a song they had written with Steve Cropper. The single was released on Atlas in 1967 and is an oft-overlooked hidden gem that’s a reminder of a truly talented songwriting partnership who achieved so much in just five-and-a-half years.

Despite their songwriting partnership lasting just five-and-a-half years, Isaac Hayes and David Porter achieved more than most. They wrote over fifty songs including anthems, hits singles and soul classics. Initially, many were recorded by artists signed to Stax. Soon, other artists were covering songs written by the pair and this continued into the seventies and eighties and beyond.

This continues to be the case and is testament to the quality of Isaac Hayes and David Porter’s songs. They’ve stood the test of time which is why artists continue to cover them. 

This includes some of the songs on Wrap It Up-The Isaac Hayes and David Porter Songbook which is the latest instalment in Ace Records’ Songwriter Series. It features songs from familiar faces and the great and good of music. Legends rub shoulders with some lesser known names on a compilation that oozes quality. It’s also a reminder of one of the great songwriting partnerships who for five-and-a-half years played their part in the rise and rise of Stax Records as it become one of soul music’s greatest labels.

Wrap It Up-The Isaac Hayes and David Porter Songbook.


1 Comment

  1. What an amazing and prolific pair. I never imagined they were together such a short time. Their sales achievements alone set them up there with the best in the business. Very informative. Thanks

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