Otis Redding – 1965 – Otis Blue
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Outside of an anthology or greatest hits package, this is the Otis Redding disc to own. Eight of the eleven selections are cover tunes, but Otis and crew attack the material with such passion and precision that it escapes the usual haphazard feel of a full length record slapped together around a few strong singles. There’s three Sam Cooke numbers, (“Wonderful World“, “Shake” and the incredible “A Change Is Gonna Come“), a fabulous rendition of Solomon Burke’s “Down in the Valley“, B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby“, William Bell’s “You Don’t Miss Your Water” and the Motown hit, “My Girl” done Stax-Volt style. When Otis released his blistering take on “Satisfaction” in early 1966, many thought that the Rolling Stones had gotten the song from him instead of the other way around. The three originals show Otis in top songwriting form with “Respect” (later turned out by Aretha Franklin), “Ole Man Trouble” and the exceptional ballad “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long“. The Big O is of course backed up by the always impressive Stax house band Booker T. & The MG’s, augmented by horn players from the Mar-Keys and Isaac Hayes on keyboards (who often played with the group whenever Booker T. was away at school).
Without question, this is an essential Otis Redding album, a classic Stax release, and a milestone of the soul genre in the 60’s.
A1 Ole Man Trouble 2:55
A2 Respect 2:05
A3 Change Gonna Come 4:17
A4 Down In The Valley 3:02
A5 I’ve Been Loving You Too Long 2:53
B1 Shake 2:35
B2 My Girl 2:52
B3 Wonderful World 3:00
B4 Rock Me Baby 3:20
B5 Satisfaction 2:45
B6 You Don’t Miss Your Water 2:53
Otis Redding’s Otis Blue is among the greatest albums ever made. Every moment of this record is breathtaking. This is one of the earliest albums that was true soul, and it is most likely the best. All 11 songs are incredible. Otis Blue shows just how great of a singer Redding was.
Three things make this album so incredible. One of them is Otis Redding’s voice. It is incredible. Few people could sing like Otis Redding. Whether it is a slower song, such as I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, an up beat song, such as Respect or even a blues song, such as Rock Me Baby, Redding’s voice shines. There isn’t one moment on this album where one woul question the greatness of his voice.
A Second and equally important aspect of this incredible album is the band. Backed by Booker T. and The MGs, the instruments on this album are wide and the playing is great. Also, Steve Cropper on lead guitar is essential to the greatness of the sound of these songs. Especially on Ole Man Trouble and Rock Me Baby, Cropper’s guitar almost overshadow’s Redding’s incredible voice.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this album is just how great the songs are. Ole Man Trouble is a Redding original. It contains some great guitar work and Redding’s voice, as always, is great. Respect, another original, is only about two minute long, but the energy that Redding and the band put into that two minutes in intense. It is very different then the later Aretha Franklin version. I like this one just as much, but it is up for arguement. A Change is Gonna Come is the first of three Sam Cooke songs on this album. Cooke was one of Redding’s favorite singers and he did these songs in tribute to the recently deceased Cooke. In paying tribute, Redding’s versions at least equal the originals and sometimes almost surpass. A Change is Gonna Come is a bit slower then the first two, but it is one of the highest points of the album. It really shows how great Redding’s voice is.
Down In The Valley is a great cover of the Solomon Burke original. I think that this version is even better. I’ve Been Loving You, another Redding original, was the biggest hit on the album. Again, it is a slower song that is very beautiful. Shake, a second cover of Sam Cooke, lightens up the mood and is just a fun dance song. My Girl, a cover of the immensley popular Temptations song, is just a sgood as the original. Redding’s version, however, definitely has more feeling and emotion in the singing. Wonderful World is the third cover of Sam Cooke. This version again at least equals Cooke’s version. Rock Me Baby, a BB King song, shows that Reeding can also sing blues. Steve Cropper’s bluesy guitar almost overshadows Redding’s voice. Satisfaction, a cover of the Rolling Stones song, isn’t quite as good as the original (only because the original is so great), but this version is still great and is interseting to hear. The album closes with You Don’t Miss Your Water, one of the best songs on the album. It closes the album with a bang.
Otis Blue is one of the greatest albums of all time, probably in the top ten. It is possibly the most essential album in R&B history.
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