daniel-jones
5th December 2011

Classic Album: Otis Redding – Otis Blue

Dan Jones takes a look at the album that shot soul icon Otis Redding to the top of the charts in 1965.
Classic Album: Otis Redding – Otis Blue

Otis Redding
Otis Blue
Stax Records
Released September 1965
5 stars

It is often difficult to hazard a guess at the exact moment in an artist’s career when they realise that their life will never be the same again.  The release of Otis Blue is a good shout though.  It not only shot Otis Redding to the top of the US Soul charts for the first time in 1965, it also set him on the path to stardom.

The album, his third in the studio, is a complete exhibition of Redding’s soulful repertoire, from the epic opening ballad ‘Ole Man Trouble’, written by Otis himself, to the floor -stomping covers of Sam Cooke ‘s ‘Shake’ and Mick Jagger’s ‘Satisfaction’.  The track listing includes two more Cooke tributes, the first of which, a soul-charged rendition of “A Change is Gonna Come”, is undeniably one of the best songs on the album.

It was actually recorded in just over 24 hours, with the help of Stax house band, The Mar-Keys, featuring Isaac ‘Chef’ Hayes on the Organ.  Redding’s voice is on another level though.  It is showcased best on ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’ where he is able to demonstrate both ferocious power and sweet, sweet tenderness.

There is also the inclusion of ‘Respect’, another Redding original, which was famously championed by Aretha Franklin.  His may not be as technically brilliant as hers, but you feel every single word he says.  It is raw, gospel-fuelled and unmistakably Otis.

It is almost impossible to find a flaw anywhere on Otis Blue.  It combines elements of rock, soul and rhythm and blues to create a unique and inimitable sound.  Each track feels so spontaneous that it’s difficult to know what emotion you will experience next.   Every song taps directly into your heart, and some even make you shiver.

Otis Redding – Wonderful World

Otis Redding – My Girl

Otis Redding – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction


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