BCB 100 - Otis Redding

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BCB 100 - Otis Redding

Postby geoffcowgill » 23 Jun 2006, 17:44

The best singer of the 20th century.

I hesitate to pick "Dock of the Bay" as my favorite song. But just like other 'too obvious' choices like "When Doves Cry" and "Like A Rolling Stone", it's the magnificent and rare thing that, despite being overplayed and ubiquitous, it manages to be monumental, fresh, and exhilirating on the two thousandth listen. And it features my favorite whistling on record, De La Soul approved.

Best Album - Otis Blue

Best Song - "(Sittin' On The) Dock Of The Bay"

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Postby Matt Wilson » 23 Jun 2006, 17:49

I've seen "Dock of the Bay" on a list of the best country songs of all time and a list of the best psychedelic songs ever.

That should give you an idea of its universal appeal.

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Postby nathan » 23 Jun 2006, 17:55

Certainly he is up there with my favorite singers. A damn fine songwriter too in his own right.

Album: Sings Soul Ballads

Song: I've Got Dreams To Remember

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Postby Penk! » 23 Jun 2006, 17:58

It'd be wrong of me to choose an album because the only one I have is Otis Blue, but tediously enough my favourite song is Dock of the Bay. What I like best about it isn't Otis's vocal but that little guitar figure under the chorus. Take away the rest of it, and you've got the cheesy riff from any one of a hundred naff '80s pop hits. And yet in this setting it's completely irresistible.
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Postby geoffcowgill » 23 Jun 2006, 18:00

Another great thing about him is how shockingly consistent his records were. There was very little filler, or perhaps the filler was transformed to gold by his talents. What other R&B/soul act in the 60s had LPs of such quality?

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Postby nathan » 23 Jun 2006, 18:02

geoffcowgill wrote:Another great thing about him is how shockingly consistent his records were. There was very little filler, or perhaps the filler was transformed to gold by his talents. What other R&B/soul act in the 60s had LPs of such quality?

Some of his album tracks (especially on The Soul Album) sound eerily similar to past hits. But because it sounds like he gave 110% at all times it still makes them compelling to listen to. I never skip any track when listening to any of his records.

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Postby Matt Wilson » 23 Jun 2006, 18:11

Penk wrote:It'd be wrong of me to choose an album because the only one I have is Otis Blue, but tediously enough my favourite song is Dock of the Bay. What I like best about it isn't Otis's vocal but that little guitar figure under the chorus. Take away the rest of it, and you've got the cheesy riff from any one of a hundred naff '80s pop hits. And yet in this setting it's completely irresistible.


Otis Blue is the one usually cited as his best but I have my reservations.
First of all there are too many covers, and none of them are better than the originals. "Change Gonna Come" is a Sam Cooke song, as is "Shake"--and Sam does 'em better. "My Girl" seems to be favored by some Brits but to Americans it is now, was then, and will forever be a Temptations classic. Did anyone ever sing "Wonderful World" better than Armstrong? And BB King's "Rock Me Baby" and the Stones "Satisfaction" were already done definitively before Otis tried his hand at them.

If that weren't enough his superb "Respect" was done better by Aretha. Some other songs aside that only leaves "I've Been Loving You Too Long" to sell the record.

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Postby nathan » 23 Jun 2006, 18:15

Ol' Man Trouble is pretty awesome. But yeah, Otis Blue is the one I reach for the least.

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Postby brilleaux » 23 Jun 2006, 18:44

Fave song? "Mr Pitiful"
"I am a dull and simple lad. Cannot tell water from champagne."

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Postby Penk! » 23 Jun 2006, 18:49

Matt Wilson wrote:
Penk wrote:It'd be wrong of me to choose an album because the only one I have is Otis Blue, but tediously enough my favourite song is Dock of the Bay. What I like best about it isn't Otis's vocal but that little guitar figure under the chorus. Take away the rest of it, and you've got the cheesy riff from any one of a hundred naff '80s pop hits. And yet in this setting it's completely irresistible.


Otis Blue is the one usually cited as his best but I have my reservations.
First of all there are too many covers, and none of them are better than the originals. "Change Gonna Come" is a Sam Cooke song, as is "Shake"--and Sam does 'em better. "My Girl" seems to be favored by some Brits but to Americans it is now, was then, and will forever be a Temptations classic. Did anyone ever sing "Wonderful World" better than Armstrong? And BB King's "Rock Me Baby" and the Stones "Satisfaction" were already done definitively before Otis tried his hand at them.

If that weren't enough his superb "Respect" was done better by Aretha. Some other songs aside that only leaves "I've Been Loving You Too Long" to sell the record.


I do agree, it is kind of underwhelming given its reputation, though by no means a weak album, and I do think Aretha does Respect better. I did have a feeling it was probably just the populist choice and there would be better records in his catalogue but I only paid about £3 for it and it's made me want to get more of his stuff, so I guess I can't complain.
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Postby Matt Wilson » 23 Jun 2006, 18:50

Penk wrote:I do agree, it is kind of underwhelming given its reputation, though by no means a weak album, and I do think Aretha does Respect better. I did have a feeling it was probably just the populist choice and there would be better records in his catalogue but I only paid about £3 for it and it's made me want to get more of his stuff, so I guess I can't complain.


Get Dictionary of Soul.

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Postby Clippernolan » 23 Jun 2006, 18:59

Album - I have a comp The Definitive Otis Redding, which I love. I've not heard any of the individual albums

Song: "That's How Strong My Love Is"
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Postby toomanyhatz » 23 Jun 2006, 19:43

I love Otis, but have to admit I find him a touch overrated. Maybe that's because he's less revolutionary than his contemporaries- Sam Cooke, James Brown (not that they're that similar), even Solomon Burke- all seem more historically important and stronger signposts of change. Otis did bridge the hippie/soul fan gap nicely, but did it mainly by finding a niche within varying styles that were already popular- unlike the others mentioned, he didn't really invent anything.

Not that he wasn't enormously talented. What a voice! And he could sing with a rasp in his voice one minute and be smooth as silk the next. Perhaps if he had lived, he would have continued to bridge the gap in the way Bill Withers and the Isleys did in the 70s. Or perhaps like Aretha his uniqueness would have decreased and he would have fallen out of favor.

I like "Dock of the Bay," but it's not close to my favorite. I'd probably have to go for "Try a Little Tenderness" or maybe "Can't Turn You Loose," to represent the best of each of the two sides mentioned above.

Favorite album? Don't know, I don't really hear a big difference between them to be honest.
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Re: BCB 100 - Otis Redding

Postby BARON CORNY DOG » 24 Jun 2006, 14:41

geoffcowgill wrote:The best singer of the 20th century.


He'll have to get at the back of a long, long line. Charlie Rich, Johnnie Taylor, Solomon Burke, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, George Jones, Candi Staton, Tammy Wynette . . .
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Postby Stirling Moss » 24 Jun 2006, 15:43

Matt Wilson wrote:I've seen "Dock of the Bay" on a list of the best country songs of all time and a list of the best psychedelic songs ever.

That should give you an idea of its universal appeal.


...of the immortal whistle, Dave Marsh wrote that Redding was "attempting to speak of things for which there are no words".
You can't say fairer than that, can you?

Overplayed to death, of course - but just remember the first time you heard it. Untoppable.


BTW Matt - disagree (natch) on 'Shake'. Otis & MGs piss all over Cooke's version. In particular - Al Jackson Jnr's performance is one the very best recorded examples of drumming, ever. Put it on again, crank up the volume, and listen.
...Otis' second best track.

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Postby geoffcowgill » 24 Jun 2006, 17:15

Diamond Wolfie wrote:
BTW Matt - disagree (natch) on 'Shake'. Otis & MGs piss all over Cooke's version. In particular - Al Jackson Jnr's performance is one the very best recorded examples of drumming, ever. Put it on again, crank up the volume, and listen.



I agree here, but I think, in general, Matt had some words of wisdom regarding Otis Blue in general. I always knee-jerkedly cite it as my favorite, but more serious thought may prove that erroneous.

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Postby atomic loonybin » 24 Jun 2006, 19:36

Otis Blue is a fantastic album, but I have to say that the other albums usually contain one or two great songs, and a lot of filler - even Dictionary of Soul. The Soul Album is particularly woeful. as I said on another thread, I went through a Stax soulboy period at about 18-19, aided by a bloke at work selling me all his great Stax albums, and Redding was my main man. I even named my first dog Otis! But I'm afraid these days I just find all that 'sock it to me!' nonsense and overwrought hollering balladeering a bit tiresome.

Otis Blue for album, and to be a bit controversial, My Girl as song. Yes, better than the Temps version.

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Postby Stirling Moss » 24 Jun 2006, 21:32

Atomic Loonybin wrote: to be a bit controversial, My Girl as song. Yes, better than the Temps version.


No contest. Otis wins over the Tempts by a country mile

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Postby T. Berry Shuffle » 25 Jun 2006, 01:16

For me he is at the top of the summit for soul singers. There ain't one motherfucker that even comes close.

Favorite album: In Person at the Whisky a Go Go

Favorite track: Just One More Day (from the album above)

If you ever want to hear an entertainer hold the audience in the palm of his hand on a live album get this thing on your stereo as soon as possible.
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Postby The Write Profile » 25 Jun 2006, 09:10

Matt Wilson wrote:
Otis Blue is the one usually cited as his best but I have my reservations.
First of all there are too many covers, and none of them are better than the originals. "Change Gonna Come" is a Sam Cooke song, as is "Shake"--and Sam does 'em better. "My Girl" seems to be favored by some Brits but to Americans it is now, was then, and will forever be a Temptations classic. Did anyone ever sing "Wonderful World" better than Armstrong? And BB King's "Rock Me Baby" and the Stones "Satisfaction" were already done definitively before Otis tried his hand at them.

If that weren't enough his superb "Respect" was done better by Aretha. Some other songs aside that only leaves "I've Been Loving You Too Long" to sell the record.


Yes, that's the stange thing about that record, isn't it? While I understand those plumping for Otis's version of "My Girl" over the Temptations based on his singing, as an arrangement, it doesn't have the same swoop and drama that the 'original' possessed. Otis's voice gets into the song deeper perhaps, but all the elements in the Temptations version take it beyond that, and not just the glorious interplay between their voices, but that opening lick, and the way it just seems to usher the song in. If ever a song were sold within the first few seconds, it's that one (incidentally, for better or worse, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is similar in that regard, seeing we've discussed that song recently, too). But I digress. And yes, Sam Cooke's originals pip Otis's to the post (both are very worthy though)

As for Otis, predictably my favourite song would be Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, because of some vaguely personal connection to it (it's one of my best friend's favourite songs- whenever he gets drunk, he almost always, without fail, launches into a rendition of that). But maybe it's the composure that Otis brings to that song, even the whistling seems to tell its own story. Just the strange resignation and hope he brings to it.

Ole Man Trouble might be favourite song on Otis Blue, that cry of defeat, those horns, that sheer reach. Again, it's the seeming control he has over the song, which means that when he takes it over the top, it's utterly earned. And oddly, I prefer Otis's version of "Respect," but only insofar that I'm kinda played out with Aretha's version. A very good LP, all the same

Strangely, like Matt Wilson, my favourite Otis LP is Dictionary of Soul- "Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song)," "Try A Little Tenderness," "Love Have Mercy"...for some reason, it seems to flow a lot better than Otis Blue, but maybe that's because of the lack of baggage in terms of Otis taking on songs that have already been well defined ("Day Tripper" aside, obviously).

According to Dave Marsh's The Heart of Rock and Soul, Redding hated "Try A Little Tenderness" as a song, hence his radical reworking of it. Makes a lot of sense, really, he just totally tears the number inside out, becoming a virtual rolecale of Otis tics and signifiers.
toomanyhatz wrote:I love Otis, but have to admit I find him a touch overrated. Maybe that's because he's less revolutionary than his contemporaries- Sam Cooke, James Brown (not that they're that similar), even Solomon Burke- all seem more historically important and stronger signposts of change. Otis ...unlike the others mentioned, he didn't really invent anything.

Not that he wasn't enormously talented. What a voice! And he could sing with a rasp in his voice one minute and be smooth as silk the next. Perhaps if he had lived, he would have continued to bridge the gap in the way Bill Withers and the Isleys did in the 70s. Or perhaps like Aretha his uniqueness would have decreased and he would have fallen out of favor.


Y'know, in some ways, I see where toomany's coming from here. Certainly the aforementioned are singers I prefer listening to (yes, even Solomon Burke), though I do genuinely like Otis Redding. One thing's for certain though- his stuff is a damn sight more interesting and important than the bloomin' Isley Brothers.

His passing at that particular time in music is interesting- perhaps it's like Hendrix in that regard- one can hypothesise all one want about where he would've gone to next, but in the end you're left with the material he did. And a lot of it was pretty damn untouchable (and some of it was pretty ropey, too, admittedly)

Btw- cheers for the tip re: the Otis live album, TBerry- I'll check that one out
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