Digitally remastered by Joe Tarantino (1991, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
All selections are previously released and appear in their original single versions.
Personnel: Isaac Hayes (vocals, piano, keyboards).
Unknown Contributor Role: David Porter.
One of the best-available Isaac Hayes compilation, Greatest Hit Singles bypasses a couple of his later disco hits, but the result is a more unified sound that helps illustrate why Hayes was so important to the development of '70s soul. Of course, a major part of his legacy consists of the epic-length suites that helped usher R&B into the album age, and that facet of his work is necessarily underrepresented here. But as a concise, easily digestible introduction to Hayes' work, Greatest Hit Singles is indispensable. Hayes may have been a master of mood and flow when he crafted his albums, but his innovative, slow-building style also lent itself to indulgence. Greatest Hit Singles presents just what the title suggests -- the single versions of these songs, which prune away Hayes' excesses and boil his core sound down to the bare essentials. Even if this doesn't capture the full scope of his talents, it still gives a sense of Hayes' genius as an arranger and the groundwork he laid for the R&B love-man archetype. There's only one of his trademark "raps" here, on "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," which is slimmed down to seven minutes. Everything else clocks in under five, which usually involves heavy editing. Oddly, for one of the most accomplished soul songwriters of the '60s, Hayes' solo hits tended to be covers; only four of the 12 tracks here are Hayes originals, and two of those were movie themes. His vision as a solo artist lay more in the elaborate presentation and, often, reimagination of his repertoire. If you want to experience the full-length versions, see Stax's two volumes of The Best of Isaac Hayes, or buy the original albums. But for a more concentrated dose of Hayes at his best, Greatest Hit Singles is hard to beat. ~ Steve Huey