The thing about Isaac Hayes that we’ll struggle mightily to replace, if we ever manage it at all, is his mastery of the pre-song monologue. (He died Sunday, in Memphis, at 65.) “I Stand Accused” is a desperate love song that moans on for over ten minutes, but within 1:30 it’s already broken your heart: “You and John are real tight, aren’t you?” Isaac asks, addressing his unrequited beloved, casually and somberly. And then: “Oh, is that an engagement ring? Oohhhhawwwww. Congratulations.” This dude is top-5 all time based entirely on the way he says “congratulations.” It’s devastating. Not that R. Kelly or Ne-Yo or whoever don’t have their charms, but this sort of thing nowadays is played entirely for laughs: Isaac rambles on here for nearly five minutes before he even bursts into song, and the tension never breaks, the smirk never comes. And when he finally does let ‘er rip? You realize just what we’ve lost.
Below is “Simultaneous.” We’re not likely to replace that, either.