Top positive review
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Very good, but could have been even better
on 10 February 2014
Despite having such a short career, Otis Redding had one of the best & most recognisable voices not just in Soul but of any genre. The emotion conveyed in his delivery was heart-wrenching: many of his songs still make the hairs on my neck or arms stand on end after literally hundreds of listens.
Amongst his repertoire are songs written by some of the most famous names in the industry: Jagger/Richards; Lennon/McCartney; Sam Cooke; Smokey Robinson; and of course Redding himself, often with Steve Cropper of Booker T & the MG's.
Add to this the fact that Rhino are widely regarded as having produced many of the best re-releases & compilations over the last couple of decades -with almost universally excellent sound quality, and the insightful information in the booklets alone often worth the purchase price without the actual discs- and you wonder what could possibly prevent this cd from being worthy of 5 stars... Well, it's the track selection.
Of course Dock of the Bay and all the other biggest hits are here (Try a Little Tenderness, Tramp, I've Been Loving You Too Long, Respect, Satisfaction etc), but there are also tracks that even long-time fans of the great man may not be too familiar with (Direct Me, or I'm Coming Home for instance). And while these are by no means bad, how they made the album ahead of Otis' astonishing version of Sam Cooke's classic A Change is Gonna Come is baffling in the extreme. OK that didn't chart as a single, but this is a "best of" rather than greatest hits, and surely most people would consider this song as one of Otis' 40 best recordings? Also missing are You Don't Miss Your Water, You Left the Water Running, Come To Me, Stand By Me, Papa's Got a Brand New Bag and (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher.
To summarise, sound quality & the information in the booklet are first rate, and almost every track on the album is excellent. But, frustratingly, a lot of what isn't included here is even better; and with over 50 minutes of unused space on the two discs, there is (to my mind at least) no excuse for omitting such great recordings. (Yes, I am aware that many other reviewers think that there should be fewer tracks included on this release, but I feel they're missing the point: there are already excellent single-disc compilations of the hits available and this release isn't trying to be another one of those; it is meant to bridge the gap between the single disc best ofs and the excellent, but sadly still not entirely comprehensive, 4-disc box set).