Rolling Stone - No. 986, p.993.5 out of 5 stars
- "...Hayes mixes funk blasts, languid ballads, unreleased live performances, major hits, chart flops..."
Uncut - p.1095 stars out of 5
-- "The big man really did redefine black music's sonic possibilities, making lust cinematic."
Isaac Hayes's towering presence in the history of soul music is undeniable: aside from his role as one half of the legendary Porter/Hayes Stax Records songwriting team, his early-1970s albums revolutionized the sounds of the day with their lush, complex instrumentation, swirling, funky explorations, and extended track lengths. The title of this three-disc set, THE ULTIMATE ISAAC HAYES, pretty much says it all. Represented here are all of Hayes's signature tunes, including the wah-wah-driven, era-defining "Theme from SHAFT" and the spacious, symphonic "Walk On By."
The two audio discs top out at close to 80 minutes each, giving full breadth to the artist's stylistic range and the stretched-out majesty of his arrangements. His transformative covers of Glen Campbell's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," Jerry Butler's "I Stand Accused," and Hank Williams's "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)" are included, alongside rare singles, B-sides, and previously unreleased live cuts. The third disc is a DVD featuring live footage of Hayes's appearance at the 1972 Wattstax concert and footage from SOUTH PARK (on which Hayes supplied the voice of Chef). All this, plus excellent notes, photos, superbly remastered sound, and beautiful packaging, make this an essential addition to any library.