Otis Clay – 1972 – Trying To Live My Life Without You
Read Reviews, Buy the Album or Download the Album for free
Review by Soulmakossa
Posting & additional info’s by Nikos
If you’ve yet to listen to Otis Clay, you are missing a vital link in the chain of roots to pop history. Soulful, bluesy, and rockin’, this album features great guitarwork and the famous HI records horn section and backup singers. Be sure to check out “Trying to Live My Life Without You” and “Precious Precious“. If you like Anne Peebles, Aretha Franklin, King Curtis, or Soloman Burke, you’ll be an Otis fan for life.
Otis Clay, returned South by way of Chicago, and cut some blistering records of pure, Southern Soul.
Produced by Memphis soul genius Willie Mitchell, Clay’s first album for Hi Records (also home to Al Green and Syl Johnson) is a must for fans of deep, deep Southern Soul.
A1 Trying to Live My Life Without You 2.52
A2 I Die a Little Each Day 2.43
A3 Holding on to a Dying Love 3.02
A4 I Can’t Make It Alone 2.56
A5 That’s How It Is 3.38
B1 I Love You, I Need You 5.48
B2 You Can’t Keep Running from My Life 2.49
B3 Precious Precious 3.17
B4 Home Is Where the Heart Is 2.55
B5 Too Many Hands 2.47
“Trying to Live My Life Without You” sounds quite upbeat and catcy, despite the depressing title, but the way Otis belts and wails out the anguished lyrics is proof enough of the song’s inherent sadness.
Things get really low-down, however, on a beautiful version of Don Bryant’s “I Die a Little Each Day“. The gentle, steady beat, churchy organ, gospelish backing vocals and shimmering strings make this the most delicate song on the album. “Holding on to a Dying Love” opens with the same strings, but soon makes way for a stomping groove, with Clay’s gutbucket vocals beautifully augmented by the backup singing – provided by Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes.
Clay gets brutally honest on the hard socking “I Can’t Make It Alone“, a ballad filled with self-doubt and despair. By the time Otis reaches the chorus, you know you’ve landed in the deepest of deep soul. Again, the strings are tastefully arranged and the chiming piano in the back works brilliantly.
Side A ends similarly low-key with “That’s How It Is”, a mid-tempo ballad that nonetheless features a heavy backbeat (courtesy of drummer Howard Grimes). The soft, purring Hammond organ and subdued brass (Memphis Horns!) add to the despondent mood, while Teenie Hodges’ guitar fills at the end are plain spooky.
The mood remains pretty much the same on the flipside, with the minor keyed, bluesy wailer “I Love You, I Need You“. Also, the Hammond isn’t purring here no more, it’s growling. Clay’s treatment of the final verses is mindblowing, especially as the seem improvised at the spot. “You Can’t Keep Running From My Love” struts along funkily, a fine mid-tempo groover, with Clay’s famous raspy vocal wrapped all around the commanding lyrics, while “Precious, Precious” is all-out party down R&B-vibe; a rollicking gospel beat, incessant backup vocals and lazy (in a good way) horns.
Stax-songwriter Bettye Crutcher wrote the delicious, sweltering ballad “Home Is Where the Heart Is“, a fantastically arranged gem (brilliant, ‘twirling’ guitar parts) that has Otis Clay gettin’ down philosophically with that booming, smokey voice of his.
Then, out of nowhere, Otis and company hit you over the head with a finale of high powered, live-wired, greasy, delta-soaked funk; “Too Many Hands” (… in the pot, spoil the soup) is one of those great Southern metaphors set-to-music, and a great conclusion to this brooding, often beautifully sad LP