on 5 May 2000
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 CD, a classic Stax release, and a milestone of the soul genre in the 1960's. Follow this one with the aptly named "Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul: Complete & Unbelievable."
With the groundwork of his first two albums behind him, "Pain In My Heart" in 1964 and "The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads" in early 1965, Otis Redding stepped into the Stax recording studio on McLemore Avenue in Memphis on the 9th of July 1965 to quickly slap down his 3rd album. And quick was the optional word. In one long adrenalin fuelled session (broken up by night gigs the band had to attend - only to reconvene in the early hours of the morning), its 11 songs took less than 24 hours to produce. In fact, Otis flew out of Memphis the very next day to do another gig! It is of course now recongnised as a bona-fide 60ts soul classic and this "Collector's Edition" is here to celebrate that.
TOM DOWD was the Engineer, ISAAC HAYES, JIM STEWART and DAVID PORTER were the Producers and the Stax House Band were the session players:
WAYNE JACKSON and GENE "BOWLEGS" MILLER on Trumpets
ANDREW LOVE on Tenor Sax
FLOYD NEWMAN on Baritone Sax
ISAAC HAYES and BOOKER T. JONES on Keyboards
STEVE CROPPER on Guitar
DONALD "DUCK" DUNN on Bass
AL JACKSON, JR. on Drums
EARL SIMS on Backing Vocals
(Jones, Cropper, Dunn and Jackson, Jr make up the nucleus of Booker T. & The MG's)
"Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul" was released in the USA on the 15th of September 1965 on Volt 412. It charted on the Pop Albums chart at a lowly number 75, but hit the big number 1 spot on the R'n'B LP chart of that month. It was released in the UK in February 1966 on Atlantic ATL 5041, originally in Stereo only - but later re-issued in 1967, again on Atlantic, but this time in both Mono and Stereo (587 036 for Mono and 588 036 for Stereo). Any sixties variant of the vinyl album has always been hard to find in playable condition here in the UK - and pricey too - so this 2CD Rhino "Collector's Edition" released on Monday 28 April 2008 in a welcome addition for soul fans everywhere.
It has the same specialist gatefold digipak packaging that Universal's 2CD "Deluxe Edition" series and EMI's 2CD "Collector's Edition" sets have - all wrapped up in an outer titled slipcase. There's a 16-page booklet with detailed liner notes by ROB BOWMAN who has conducted interviews with the album's engineer, the late TOM DOWD, Bass Player DONALD "DUCK" DUNN and Trumpeter WAYNE JACKSON among others. It pictures US Volt 7" singles and UK Atlantic 7" singles from private collectors, has a few black and white shots of Otis himself and detailed session notes. The release has been prepared by PATRICK MILLIGAN and CHERYL PAWELSKI for Rhino with Otis' wife, Zelma Redding, adding her take on the re-issue in her own dedication - a very nice touch that.
The master tapes have been REMASTERED by Rhino's long-standing collaborating engineers DAN HERSCH and BILL INGLOT at Digiprep studios (no date supplied) and the 40-tracks of the 2CDs are laid out as follows:
Disc 1 (72:30 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 11 is the original MONO MIX of the album, Volt 412
Tracks 12, 14 and 15 are mono mixes of the stereo album versions and are previously unreleased
Track 13 is the non-album B-side to "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)" issued April 1965 on the US 7" single Volt 126
Track 16 is the non-album B-side to "Satisfaction" issued in February 1966 on the US 7" single Volt 132
Track 17 is a stereo mix of the mono single version - it was first issued on the 1993 "Otis! The Definitive Otis Redding" 4CD Rhino Box Set
Tracks 18 and 20 were recorded live at The Whisky A Go Go sessions in April 1966 and were first released on the 1982 Atlantic LP "Recorded Live: Previously Unreleased Performances"
Tracks 19, 21, 22 and 23 are from the October 1968 Atco LP "Otis Redding In Person At The Whisky A Go Go"
Disc 2 (51:03 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 11 are the original STEREO MIX of the album (Volt 412)
Track 12 is the 1967 version of "Respect" which first appeared on the "Remember Me" album compilation from 1992 on Stax
Tracks 13 to 17 are from the "Live In Europe" album from October 1967 on Volt 416 and feature the Stax House band
As you will have noticed from the above breakdown, for the die-hard collector who already has all of Redding's issued material to date, this 2CD set only really has 3 previously unreleased tracks, and they're slightly alternate mono mixes of stereo album versions - so it's hardly the great haul of soul joy the lovely outside packaging promises. The mono mix of the album is new to CD of course, but again, some may feel, it's simply more of the same.
The mono mix of the album on Disc 1 is surprisingly clean - there is hiss on it given the less-than-sophisticated recording equipment and rushed nature of the recordings, but it is punchy and vibrant - and in many ways far more direct than the crude two-channel separation of the Stereo version. It's better than I thought it would be and a nice addition.
Both discs contain live material - and a few seconds into any of the tunes - it's easy to know why. Otis Redding `live' must have been an awesome wonder to behold - you can only imagine what it must have been like to be in that audience - to see this force of nature literally slay an audience - and you get a sense of it 30 seconds into "Shake". It explodes out of the speakers in that Sixties joyful way. The silver suit, the huge charisma, the guttural vocals, the band complimenting him - brass section choppy and tight - guitar, bass and drums funky as f**k - what a wow! In some respects, the live versions are far better than the studio ones `because' they're so `alive'. The live tracks are ballsy and far better recorded than you would imagine - they also give you a more rounded picture of the man and his talents - and to some degree - what all the fuss about Redding is all about.
The Stereo mix on Disc 2, however, is disappointingly drenched in hiss - and on the slower ballads like "Ole Man Trouble", the Sam Cooke cover of "Change Gonna Come", the William Bell song "You Don't Miss Your Water", the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles cover "My Girl" and particularly "I've Been Loving You Too Long" - it detracts way too much from the magic of the songs. Personally I find them very difficult to enjoy with a wall of hiss blasting out `over' the instruments. The hip shakers like Solomon Burke's "Down In The Valley", Sam Cooke's "Shake" and the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction" fare far better - they sound great - really alive and kicking - with the wonderful low-down groove of B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby" being a particular highlight (has a wicked Steve Cropper guitar solo). Basically the effect on the stereo mix is that brass and piano are in the left speaker with the vocals and guitar entirely in the right with some imaging in between. It works brilliantly on the mid-tempo Sam Cooke cover "Wonderful World" too. And when I A/B the 1992 remaster by Rhino with this 2008 version, the differences are there - much LOUDER and CLEARER. It's just such a shame about the hiss levels on some of the tracks.
A classic album in a lovely package and one that fans will have to own. For those not wanting to fork out the near £15 price tag the hard copy commands, ITunes is offering the entire 40-track double set for £8.99 as a download (no booklet unfortunately). Recommended.
Hopefully this will see Rhino issue more Collector's Editions from the extraordinary WEA catalogue at their disposal - and not just in the Soul arena.
But that's a list five times longer than this review!
on 22 November 2000
I have just stumbled upon OTIS BLUE on Amazon.I suddenly remembered that it was the first L.P. I bought.Hearing "MY GIRL"as a single I just had to hear more of this incredible singing voice.I was not disappointed,and this album remains one of my favourites.I am looking forward to hearing it again on C.D.
on 18 May 2007
If you really want to know the meaning of Soul then listen to this album by Otis. This album shows how his rapidly developing talent had matured into excellent writing on his own songs such as "Ole Man Trouble", "Respect" and his biggest hit "I've Been Loving You Too Long".
Even the usual covers you get on most albums are delivered by Otis with that feeling of Soul which enhances how they were done by the original artists. Just see what I mean by his versions of " Change Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke, "My Girl" by Smokey Robinson, which was a hit for the Temptations, and so on.
One of the reasons the music on this album is so good, is that Otis was a multi talented artist who could sing, play several instruments and at around this time he was becomming a producer. So he could easily demonstrate to the musicians exactly what he wanted.
Here he is in control, because he makes the musicians do what he wants in order to put across the feelings he expresses with his excellent voice. Now off course for this to be successful he needs outstanding musicians and here he has them in the form of Stax's house band Booker T and The MG's and the horns of The Mar-Keys, which together makes a formidable combination.
This is a special album because most times I have to play it twice, as it brings back memories of life when I first heard it back in 1965 and memories which are still here today. I just can't get enough of it. Every track is special. So if you're a Otis fan like me then this is a must for your collection. If you're new to Soul music then this is an enjoyable road to begin and especially good to stimulate your curiosity of Otis's other works of art. So sit back and enjoy the Otis experience of real Soul.
Otis released five solo studio albums in his lifetime, of which this was the third and the most commercially successful at the time. Like its two predecessors, it heavily featured Booker T and the MGs and the Mar-Keys and was arranged by Otis himself, who was a multi-instrumentalist although did not play on many of his records. It followed the formula of his other albums of mixing some choice original material with some songs associated with artists who were inspirational to Otis, notably Sam Cooke (Shake, Wonderful World, Change Gonna Come), and Little Richard (Lucille appears on his debut album)with whom he shared a home town. All were given the distinctive Stax treatment, so songs like the Temptations' My Girl were radically re-interpreted (My Girl was released as a single in the UK, with Down In The Valley on the B-side, and reached no. 11 in the national chart). Otis Redding was one of the first soul singers to break through to a white audience internationally and his song That's How Strong My Love Is (from Soul Ballads) had been quickly covered by the Rolling Stones. On Otis Blue he returned the favour with an upbeat Satisfaction, later released as a single and a staple of his live act for the rest of his career, including his memorable Monterey appearance in 1967.
I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now), one of his finest compositions, had been recorded before the rest of the album and had already been released as a single. It was included on the mono album but the stereo version instead has a longer re-cut made at the two-day session that made up most of the album.
Although Otis' singing style incorporated soul, funk, gospel and blues, he cut relatively few out and out blues, but on Otis Blue (perhaps because of its title) he includes a stunning version of Rock Me Baby, with some phenomenal guitar from Steve Cropper. This was a blues standard closely associated with BB King and was included in the sets of some of the West Coast bands of the time, notably the Jefferson Airplane, so was a canny choice.
For those looking to acquire an original Otis album (rather than a posthumous compilation) this would make a good first buy.
on 27 June 2016
Firstly let me say that this album comes on blue vinyl. I probable should have read the description more closely as I was not expecting that. Not an issue just thought I would point it out.
There is a sticker on the packaging declaring that the album is re-mastered form original tapes. Great then...well no. The album is very clean out of the packaging and plays without any surface noise. However musically it is just good. I was hoping to be overawed with the quality and I wasn't.
When you purchase this album off of Amazon you have access to the MP3 version. Playing the album and the MP3 (via smart phone)simultaneously and switching back and forth through the amp input selector. I am left feeling the MP3 version is at least as good. I have an old Otis Redding compilation cassette and to be honest it seems better than this vinyl.
It is fine and playable I just think it could have been better.
on 19 June 2009
While this is fine Otis Redding album worthy of 5 stars (if you like soul), I have only given it 4 stars because Amazon neglect to inform you it is remastered from the MONO master tapes, whereas it was originally issued in STEREO and MONO (I know - I bought the STEREO version in 1968).
The collectors edition from Rhino (which Amazon UK don't seem to carry themselves) includes both the MONO and STEREO mixes and some bonus tracks, including a MONO down-mix of the STEREO version (showing that the STEREO version was a true stereo mix, not just 'enhanced mono'). However, a reviewer reports a large amount of hiss on the stereo version CD.
This may be the same as the item Amazon UK lists as no date, 2 discs and with no label.
Amazon currently - Jun 2009 - list (but do not sell themselves) other editions on:
Audio CD (28 April 2008)
Number of Discs: 2
Audio CD (15 Jul 2008)
Label: Ultradisc/Mobile Fidelity
Number of Discs: 1
Audio CD - no date given
Number of Discs: 2
No Label given
ASIN: B0013SJ44Q (see review of this item)
Update Feb 2010 to review of June 2009: Amazon have (partially) redeemed themselves by making the collectors edition available as an MP3 download. This edition contains various versions of the tracks in MONO and STEREO, but some tracks are only available if you download the full album. For the number of tracks the MP3 album is a reasonable price, but you don't get more songs - just various versions and mixes of the same ones. So in my opinion you are better off buying ASIN:B0013SJ44Q which seems to be the same Rhino material on a CD.
on 28 April 2015
If you are a fan of soul music you must get this for your collection. It is a unique tine capture of a time when Otis was at the top of his game. I had the vinyl of this as a teenager and just wanted it for my collection namely for his cover version of 'I can't get no satisfaction'. While buying the CD I also found a vinyl copy so happy days. Recommended investment for any soul fan!
on 8 November 2014
One of the greatest albums ever comes to deluxe CD. I got this on vinyl in about 1985 and it's been one of my favourites ever since. Stand-out songs include I've Been Loving You Too Long, Rock Me Baby (with a corker of a guitar solo from Steve Cropper!) and a far superior My Girl (I love a lot of Motown, but this Stax version is way better). One of the most moving songs ever for me is Otis' version of Sam Cooke's Change Gonna Come. I was never much of a Sam Cooke fan, so this reading is, for me, a truly top version.
Along with bonus takes (MONO/STEREO takes and mixes along with live takes) this is an essential purchase for any soul fan.
on 22 June 2013
How can a sound from so long ago still reverbarate so strongly inside a head that never knew, met or saw such a man. It does though. Otis Reading is a man who transcends time, his voice is ageless and since my Year 4 class enjoy listening to him he must be timeless too. I have never known a singer who can be seen through his music like this. The images are often black and white but the sounds are as colourful as a world I'm sure Otis dreamed of and strived to be a part of. I just love this music...