In 1964, Jerry Butler had a moderately-sized hit with “I Stand Accused.” He’d already had bigger hits, several of them, and he had many bigger hits ahead of him. Nonetheless, “I Stand Accused,” a song Butler wrote with his brother Billy, has become one of Butler’s most beloved songs. It’s unlikely that it would be so well-remembered however, if not for Isaac Hayes’ majestic 1970 cover version of the song.
Hayes had released his landmark Hot Buttered Soul album in 1969. The album was a key component in the Stax Records comeback that Al Bell engineered after Atlantic Records laid claim to all of the Stax masters recorded between 1960–1967, and the tragic death of the label’s superstar, Otis Redding. Bell hatched a plan to flood the market with dozens of new Stax singles and albums, and one of the most successful efforts in this surge of activity was Hot Buttered Soul, which sold three million copies.
For his follow up album in 1970, Hayes decided to go with the template that he had established with Hot Buttered Soul. Once again, the album consisted of just four songs, with two of them clocking in at over ten minutes long. And once again the two extended songs were covers of classic songs. On Hot Buttered Soulthere were extended covers of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Walk on By,” and Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” On The Isaac Hayes Movement (keyboard player Marvell Thomas gave that name to Hayes’ backing band, with the Jimi Hendrix Experience in mind) the extended covers were of George Harrison’s “Something,” and Jerry and Billy Butler’s “I Stand Accused.” The album also included another Bacharach/David song, “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself,” but it clocked in at a more modest 7:05.
Hayes’ version of “I Stand Accused” is more than 11 1/2 minutes long. Nearly half of that time is devoted to a lengthy spoken intro. Hayes plays keyboards and sings, and he also produced the album. His backing musicians, as they had been on Hot Buttered Soul, were the Bar-Kays, a band that had come back from unthinkable tragedy when all but two members were killed in the Redding plane crash in December, 1967.
The Isaac Hayes Movement was released on Enterprise Records, a Stax subsidiary, in April, 1970. The album resided in the #1 spot on the Billboard Soul Albums chart for a remarkable seven weeks, and was still in the Top Ten in November. The album also reached the top spot on the jazz albums chart, and spent 75 weeks among the Top 200 albums on the Billboard Pop chart, reaching a peak position of #8. “I Stand Accused” was released as a single in July, 1970. It reached #23 on the Soul Singleschart, and #42 on the Pop chart.
The Isaac Hayes Movement was an important part of the Stax resurgence. Unfortunately the success wouldn’t last as the company was shuttered amid accusations of financial impropriety at the end of 1975.