Track of the Day: 'Walk on By' by Isaac Hayes

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Craig Hoffman, serves up a long sultry song for Saturday night:

For your consideration, this cover of the seminal Dione Warwick song upends her traditional pop arrangement for 12:03 of pure Hot Buttered Soul [Isaac Hayes’s second album] and turns a [Burt] Bacharach/[Hal] David weeper into an unrecognizable mash-up of R&B, pop, funk, and even psychedelica.

Isaac Hayes, whose first solo effort bombed, was given complete creative control by Stax head Al Bell after losing the publishing rights of their back catalog. Hayes essentially creates a new genre with this cut, with pounding drums (a rarity in soul music up to that point) and an almost-dub sensibility in the bass and guitar lines. With his passionate baritone chiming in from time-to-time, this version of “Walk On By” is a master demonstration of studio bravado and epic song arrangement.

Update from Chris Ward, who recommends an even bigger genre jump:

A punk band, The Stranglers, at the height of their sinister pomp in 1978, covering a Dionne Warwick standard. It has an amazing bass solo from JJ Burnel.

(Track of the Day archive here. Earlier archive here. Submit via hello@.)