Wednesday, September 16, 2015
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: OTIS REDDING - OTIS BLUE/OTIS REDDING SINGS SOUL (
In the mid-'60's, pre-Pepper, the pop album was still a slap-dash affair, for the most part. A few big thinkers such as Dylan were putting together a full effort over 40 minutes, but usually an album for most bands was the new single, the next single, a few covers and maybe an instrumental or two.
That was roughly the plan for Otis Redding when he entered the studio to record his third album in 1965. But the results were far from filler. The talent level was so high, there could be no lesser material included. You had the great engineer Tom Dowd behind the board, and the legendary house band of Stax Records, which included all the members of Booker T. and the MG's, plus Isaac Hayes on keyboards, and the Stax horns.
Then there was Redding himself, now fully aware of the vocal talents he possessed. Yes, they would record covers that session, but anything he handled would become soul gold, such as his incendiary version of the new Rolling Stones hit Satisfaction, or his take on the recent Motown chart topper My Girl. He was proving he could do anyone's material, and make it his own, even the late, great Sam Cooke, as he brought his own chills to a trio of his songs, notably Change Gonna Come (sic).
He was writing too. Not just trial cuts, this is the home of the brilliant I've Been Loving You Too Long, a tour-de-force soul weeper, Redding's voice crying out among the horns. Plus, another classic, the original Respect, quite different than Aretha's later cover but perfect for his huffing and puffing delivery. It is, from start to finish, one of the very best soul records of all time, and on par as a collection with such great concept albums as Sinatra's In The Wee Small Hours and Pet Sounds.
This 50th anniversary set is a reissue of a previous deluxe edition, and comes as a double CD. Disc one has the original album in mono, while disc two features stereo. There are also several bonus cuts on each, collecting all the existing studio and live tracks associated with the set, including single b-sides, an alternate version of Respect, several concert tracks from