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The Essentials: Otis Redding

Otis Redding

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Album Review

After the career of Otis Redding was cut tragically short in December of 1967, the tape vaults were plundered on several occasions to present fans with new product. The Immortal Otis Redding (1968) was the second posthumous long-player created from the artist's backlog of material. Of the 11 selections, only the 45 rpm side "The Happy Song (Dum-Dum-De-De-De-Dum-Dum)" would have been familiar to enthusiasts of the late vocalist. As notated on the rear of the original jacket, these were among the last tunes Redding cut during what turned out to be a prophetic three-week stretch of sessions — concluding just days prior to his untimely passing. One of which is the emotive opener "I've Got Dreams to Remember," which bear two disparate sets of lyrics — including one by Redding's spouse Zelma Redding. However, the words on the version commencing this effort were actually penned by Joe Rock, whose primary claim to fame was as author of the Skyliners' doo wop smash "Since I Don't Have You." The midtempo "You Made a Man Out of Me" is marked by the hypnotic rhythm lines of Donald "Duck" Dunn (bass). It joins the preeminently funky "Hard to Handle" — which easily bests the Black Crowes' early-'90s modernization — and the sublime soul stomper "Nobody's Fault But Mine" as prime paradigms of his inimitable command. The Memphis Horns provide a profound sense of empathy to the aching "Thousand Miles Away," while the somber irony of the Redding original "A Waste of Time" ranks alongside his best ballads. The remake of Ray Charles' "A Fool for You" provides an ideal vehicle for Redding to explore his R&B roots. It likewise leads one to beg the hypothetical possibilities of an entire project dedicated to Redding's interpretations of sounds that influenced him. Those very musical roots definitively manifest themselves in the closing spiritual, "Amen." Although Redding is credited with the arrangement, he was undoubtedly impacted by the Impressions' 1964 hit that took a similar approach to the simple sacred singalong. On the whole, it can be argued that The Immortal Otis Redding wasn't quite on par with the half-dozen studio albums that the vocalist cut during his lifetime. By the same token, it should be acknowledged that any Otis Redding recordings should be considered welcome (if not mandatory) additions to all manner of listeners.

Customer Reviews


The Dock of The Bay and Try a Little Tenderness are in stereo for the first time on itunes. BTW the whole collection is fantastic.

One of my All Time Favorites!

During the summer of 1968, I drove around in a Buick Century with a 4-track tape player (not an 8 track but a 4 track) and bought this tape on a recommendation of an older friend who was responsible for making me a major music lover. This collections was fabulous! There is no way to explain the experiences I had that summer without a reflection of this as being the soundtrack for my summer. The album still ranks today as one of my top 20 of all time. If you are unfamiliar with Otis Redding, I would recommend this collection above all others I have heard.

Listen to songs like "Try A Little Tenderness", this did a classic build and climax that preceded the song "Stairway To Heaven" by about 4 years and gave anyone who heard it the same feeling. "Dock Of The Bay" released after his death, was his biggest hit, but in my mind every one of these songs are a hit.

The Stax Label did not try to be Motown with this artist and it paid off is spades. A unique sound, a unique artist and a great collection of songs makes this album one for the decades.

The essential Essentials

THE defining perfomer at his best. As timeless today as when he recorded these songs. And speaking in the language of many generations.


Born: September 9, 1941 in Dawson, GA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s

One of the most influential soul singers of the 1960s, Otis Redding exemplified to many listeners the power of Southern "deep soul" — hoarse, gritty vocals, brassy arrangements, and an emotional way with both party tunes and aching ballads. He was also the most consistent exponent of the Stax sound, cutting his records at the Memphis label/studios that did much to update R&B into modern soul. His death at the age of 26 was tragic not just because he seemed on the verge of breaking through...
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