Happy Anniversary: Otis Redding, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul
51 years ago today, Otis Redding released his third album, which consisted predominantly of covers of songs originally performed by other artists, but despite the fact that all but one song was recorded during the span of a single 24-hour period, it is viewed not only as one of Redding’s greatest albums but as one of the greatest soul albums of the 1960s.
Recorded at the famed Stax Recording Studios in Memphis, Tennessee under the watchful eye of producers Jim Stewart, Isaac Hayes, and David Porter, OTIS BLUE: OTIS REDDING SINGS SOUL kicks off with two of Redding’s own compositions: “Ole Man Trouble” and “Respect.” From there, the remainder of Side 1 delivers Sam Cooke’s “Change Gonna Come” and Solomon Burke’s “Down in the Valley” before closing with “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” a co-write between Redding and Jerry Butler. Side 2 is free of Redding-penned tunes, but it’s chock full of classics: in addition to two more Cooke compositions – “Shake” and “Wonderful World,” the latter written with Lou Adler and Herb Alpert – there are versions of the Temptations’ “My Girl,” B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby,” and the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” after which Redding wraps up with a rendition of William Bell’s “You Don’t Miss Your Water.”
OTIS BLUE: OTIS REDDING SINGS SOUL may not have been a chart-topper for Redding – as it happens, it actually only made it to #75 on the Billboard Top 200 – but it nonetheless provided him with the crossover success in the pop market that he needed to grab a foothold. More than that, it has gone on to make all-time-best lists around the world, with even the most hard-to-please critics throwing around words like “masterwork” to describe its contents. Indeed, it can be found within both Rolling Stone’s and NME’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time lists, and to look beyond mere music magazines, Time Magazine included it on the All-Time 100 Greatest Albums.
And you know what? They’re all right: OTIS BLUE truly is one of the all-time greatest albums. If it’s not already in your collection, picking up a copy is a perfect way to celebrate its anniversary.