Otis Redding

Band members                             Related acts

- Otis Redding (RIP 1968) - vocals


- Otis Redding and the Pinetoppers

- The Shooters

- The Soul Clan





Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads

Company: Volt

Catalog: 411

Year: 1965


Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring and edge wear; name 'Leland' on front and back covers, as well as inner label; mono pressing

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $10.00


Released in the wake of his participation in The Soul Clan tour and album (see separate entry), 1965's "The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads" offered up a mix of earlier singles and new studio material.  Those earlier singles were:


- 1964's 'Come To Me' b/w 'Don't Leave Me This Way' (Volt catalog number 45-116)

- 1965's 'Chained and Bound' b/w 'Your One and Only Man' (Volt catalog number 45-121)


While some folks will disagree, to my ears Redding's sophomore release reflected major improvement and artistic growth.  Not only did Redding sound far more confident and comfortable in the studio, but he seemed to gel with his backup band including Booker T. and most of the M.G.'s.  Moreover the overall mix of originals and cover tunes was far stronger than on the debut with Redding consistently finding a nice mix between Gospel, R&B and lighter soul moves.  Highlights included the opener 'That's How Strong My Love Is' (which was subsequently covered by The Rolling Stones - I think it's included on 1965's "Out of Our Heads"), the original 'Chained and Bound' and 'Your One and Only Man' (the latter aptly showcasing Steve Cropper's slashing guitar and The Mar-Keys at their best).  Elsewhere, 'Mr. Pitiful' (the nickname he'd been given by Memphis DJ Moohah Williams), provided Redding with his first major pop hit ('Mr. Pitiful' b/w 'That's How Strong My Love Is' (Volt catalog number 45-124)).  While the overall feel was still a little too raw for mainstream white audiences (something "Otis Blue" would fix), the combination of positive reviews from music critics, the top-50 hit and extensive name recognition via The Rolling Stones' cover all helped the parent album hit # 147.


"The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) That's How Strong My Love Is   (Jamison) - 2:24

2.) Chained and Bound   (Otis Redding) - 2:25

3.) A Woman, a Lover, a Friend   (Wyche) - 3:18

4.) Your One and Only Man   (Otis Redding) - 2:48

5.) Nothing Can Change This Love   (Sam Cooke) - 2:59

6.) It's Too Late  (Willis) - 3:00


(side 2)

1.) For Your Precious Love   (Brooks - Brooks - Butler) - 2:49

2.) I Want to Thank You   (Otis Redding) - 2:35

3.) Come to Me   (Otis Redding - Walden) - 2:38

4.) Home in Your Heart  (Blackwell - Scott) - 2:10

5.) Keep Your Arms Around Me   (McClinton) - 2:46

6.) Mr. Pitiful   (Otis Redding) - 




Genre: soul

Rating: ***** (5 stars)

Title:  Live In Europe

Company: Volt

Catalog: S-416

Year: 1967


Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1834

Price: $15.00


As part of a package tour, Stax sent Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MGs, and various other acts on a Spring 1967 tour of Europe.  The ten tracks on "Otis Redding Live In Europe" were supposedly recorded at a March 21,1967 performance at Paris' Olympia Theatre.  Curiously, judging by the audience noises, the crowd seemingly spoke very good English (check out the women who gott caught on tape before and during 'Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)'.  On the other hand, Redding adds a "J'taime" refrain to the same song.  Some Redding scholar will know the true story ...


So, I'm one of those folks who tend to find concert albums inferior to studio work.  Concert albums tend to be a cheap money maker for record companies and artists who are looking to keep their catalog active while the recuperate, or give themselves more time to record new studio material.  There are always exceptions to the rule and this is one of those exceptions.   In fact, if you're going to buy a live album for your collection (not just a live soul album), this is one you should consider.  One of soul's finest singers, in spite of rather primitive recording practices, Redding and company came off in fine form throughout.  The set was full of highlights and rather than listing them all, it's easier to focus on the isolated missteps - slightly uninspired cover of The Temptations' and a trying-too-hard cover of The Beatles 'Day Tripper'.  My only real complaints stem from the absence of any rare tunes; nothing strays too far from the studio versions, and the album's relative brevity - ten song clocking in at under 40 minutes.  Of course that makes perfect sense given the album was recorded as part of a package tour where the emphasis was on hits and every artist was limited to a strict timeframe.  Those are minor complaint at best and do nothing to detract from the overall quality of the album.


Give the man an extra star for having the cojones to not only wear a red suit, but also do it with style !!!


"Otis Redding Live In Europe" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Respect   (Otis Redding) - 3:00

Not much to say about this one - the French audience seemed as if they were foaming at the mouth.  Hearing them spell out Redding's name was a gas.   Backed  by The MGs Redding's performance was simply stunning.  Anyone who thought Aretha Franklin owned the song simply needs to check out this live rendition.   rating; ***** stars

2.) Can't Turn You Loose   (Otis Redding) - 3:20

Not to ignore Redding's steaming performance (his end-of-song vamp is a classic move), but the horn section (Joe Arnold, Andrew Love, and  Wayne Jackson), all but steal this one.   rating; ***** stars   

3.) I've Been Loving You Too Long   (Jerry Butler - Otis Redding) - 3:40

I've always loved hearing Redding's between-song comments ...   He simply kills on this classic ballad.   Even better than the studio version.   You have to wonder how many kids were conceived with this as part of the mating soundtrack.    rating: ***** stars

4.) My Girl   (Smokey Robinson - Reginald White) - 2:44

I won't call it a disappointment, but 'My Girl' is so strongly connected with The Temptations in my mind that Redding's cover simply didn't measure up to the original   Once again, the horn session proved their worth on this one.   rating: *** stars

5.) Shake   (Sam Cooke) - 2:51

Unlike his cover of 'My Girl', Redding brought "it" to his cover of Sam Cooke's 'Shake'.   The tune almost becomes an audience participation number on the extended chorus.   Easy to see why the track was tapped as a single :

- 1967's 'Shake' b/w 'You Don't Miss Your Water' (Volt catalog number 45-149)  # 47 pop; # 16 R&B   rating: ***** stars


(side 2)

1.) I Can't Get No Satisfaction   (Mick Jagger - Keith Richards) - 2:52

The crowd certainly appreciated his Stones cover and just like Aretha almost appropriated 'Respect', Redding comes close to doing the same thing to this tune.   I suspect Jagger and Richards approved.   rating: **** stars

2.) Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)   (Steve Cropper - Otis Redding) - 3:37

Geez, can '60s soul simply get any better than this tune?   Redding and the crowd are having a blast.   rating: ***** stars

3.) These Arms of Mine   (Otis Redding) - 2:57

Sure, we would have all loved to hear 'Good To Me', but he turns in a stellar 'These Arms of Mine'.   Shame the audience sounds weren't buffered out.   rating: **** stars

4.) Day Tripper   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 2:54

Redding's drastic re-arrangement of 'Day Tripper' has always been an acquired taste.  Given the complete Stax treatment, I'd argue this was one of the few tracks that was a disappointment.  Redding and company sounded energetic, but they just sound like they were trying a tad too hard.   rating: *** stars

5.) Try a Little Tenderness   (James Campbell - Reginald Connelly - Harry Woods) - 5:00

A fantastic way to end the album that simply left you wishing there was more.  rating: **** stars





Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Soul as Sung By Otis Redding and Little Joe Curtis

Company: Alshire

Catalog: S-5082

Year: 1967


Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1054

Price: $10.00



Based in Los Angeles, Alshire Records was well known as a budget label that was more than willing to jump on popular trends in an attempt to generate a quick profit with little investment.  Released in 1967, "Soul as Sung By Otis Redding and Little Joe Curtis" was clearly intended to take advantage of Redding's immense popularity, though the decision to release a compilation of material split between Redding and Curtis was strange.   Judging by the four Redding tracks that were included on the album - a pair of obscure 1960 singles, I'm guessing the label couldn't get their hands on enough Redding solo material to release a full album so it was "padded" with six Curtis numbers.   I'll readily admit Curtis was a complete unknown to me and there doesn't seem to be a great deal of info out there about the man.   Judging by the Curtis performances, he was a real talent, with a knack for catchy, mid-'60s soul numbers that recalled a Southern take on Wilson Pickett.  No disrespect meant to Redding, but judging by these performances, Curtis actually came off far better than Redding did.  In fact, the album's worth buying just for the Curtis sides.


"Soul As Sun By Otis Redding and Little Joe Curtis" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Gettin' Hip   (Otis Redding)

I'm not a Redding scholar, but I think this was Redding's solo debut.  Released in 1960, 'Gettin' Hip' was a decent upbeat R&B number that was notable for the weird, surprisingly high key that Redding employed.   The tune's always reminded me of a Jackie Wilson performance.   The single was actually release twice:

- 1960's 'Gettin' Hip' b/w 'Gamma Lama' (Alshire catalog number Alshire 5082)
- 1960's
'Gettin' Hip' b/w 'Gamma Lama' (Gerland catalog number 1001) 

Not an essential performance, but still worth hearing to see how the man evolved in such a short period of time.   rating: *** stars

2.) Your Mini Skirt

Clearly recorded in the mid-'60s, Little Joe Curtis' performance on 'Your Mini Skirt' was one of the album's highlights.   Amazing non-PC by today's standards, it was still a great dance tune.   rating: **** stars

3.) Gamma Lama  (Otis Redding) - 

Sounding like it was recorded in a large shower, 'Gamma Lama' was seemingly an early version of what became 'Shout Bamalama'.  To be honest, it's barely recognizable as a Redding song.  The tune debuted as the 'B' side of Redding's 'Gettin' Hip' single.   rating: ** stars

4.) Let Me Make It Up To You

Having to go head-to-head with Otis Redding probably wasn't the best career move you could have made, but judging by the steaming ballad 'Let Me Make It Up To You' Cutis held more than his own in the competition.   Very nice performance with a nice Memphis feel to the tune.  Wonder if that was Steve Cropper on the guitar solo ...   rating: **** stars

5.) Don't Bother Me Baby

Another Little Joe Curtis tune, 'Don't Bother Me Baby' found him in prime soul mode with a tune that was highly commercial and radio friendly.   rating: **** stars


(side 2)

1.) She's All Right   (Otis Redding) - 2:07

Redding's first 45, 'She's All Right' was originally credited to The Shooters Featuring Otis Redding.   Re-issued by the Denver, Colorado-base Finer Arts label, it was credited as Otis Redding & the Shooters.

- 1960s' 'She's All Right' b/w 'Tuff Enough' (Trans World catalog 6908)

- 1960's 'She's All Right' b/w 'Tough Enough' (Finer Arts catalog number FA 2016)

Musically it's actually hard to identify this one as a Redding performance since his vocal had  a strange, pinched delivery like he was singing with a tie that was too tight.   rating: *** stars

3.) Have Mercy On Me  (Sherman D. Miller) - 2:46

Another impressive Curtis performance - excellent, dance-ready mid-'60s soul.   rating: **** stars

3.) Tuff Enuff   (Otis Redding) - 2:04

The flip side to the 1960 'She's All Right' 45, 'Tuff Enuff' had a very '50s feel.  With a quacking sax solo, this one didn't sound anything like a Redding tune.   rating: ** stars

4.) Bring Back My Love  (Sherman D. Miller) - 2:39

Another quality soul tune with some killer horn charts that would have given better known soulsters a run for their money.   Curtis could belt it out !!!   rating: **** stars

5.) Guilty of Being Poor  (Sherman D. Miller) - 2:44

The one Curtis disappointment, 'Guilty of Being Poor' was simply too gimmicky to be enjoyable.  Imagine a second-rate attempt to copy Shorty Long's 'Here Comes the Judge' with Curtis sound shrill and irritating.   rating: ** stars


For hardcore fans, Redding's untimely 1967 death saw the album released worldwide with different titles, cover art, and slightly modified running orders.  


- Canadian issue 1967's "Here Comes Some Soul From Otis Redding and Little Joe Curtis" (Stereo Fidelity catalog number SF 292)

- German issue 1968's "Here Comes More Soul" (Euoipa catalog number E 327)

- Italian issue 1967's "Otis Redding and Little Joe Curtis" (Somerset catalog number SS 565) 

- UK issue 1967's "Here Comes Some Soul From Otis Redding and Little Joe Curtis" (Marble Arch catalog number MAL 772)





Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Soul Album

Company: Volt

Catalog: S-413

Year: 1966


Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1761

Price: $30.00



I'm a big Otis Redding fan and love 1966's "The Soul Album".   It is a classic album with Redding and company sounded great.  Tunes like 'Just One More Day', 'Good To Me' and 'Any Ole Way' were easily amongst the best things he ever recorded.  This probably sounds kind of stupid, but the collection has always struck me as sounding rushed and unfocused.   Start with the fact there were only three Redding originals.  Not that there was anything wrong with Redding's cover tunes - check out his stunning cover of Sam Cooke's 'Chain Gang' or his take on Roy Head's 'Treat Her Right'.   Redding basically made those tunes his own.  Still, the collection had kind of an odds-and-ends feel with several of these tunes having previously appeared as 'B' sides.   'Just One More Day' was the flip side to 1966's 'I Can't Turn You Loose'.  'Any Ole' Way' was the flip side to 1966's 'Satisfaction'.   Hard to blame Redding who found himself under immense pressure to tour and record.  In support of "Otis Blue", he'd undertaken an extensive European tour in the Spring of 1966, fitting in recording sessions where possible.  Against that backdrop, I guess I can understand why this set might sound a bit disjointed.      


Interestingly Stax didn't pull a single off the album.  Still, backed by an extensive 54 date US tour, the album hit # 54 on the US pop charts and # 4 on the R&B charts.  


By the way; no idea who the cover model was, but the lady was simply stunning.


"The Soul Album" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Just One More Day   (Otis Redding - Steve Cropper - Robinson) - 2:55

One of three Redding originals on the album and one of the best ballads he ever did.  Unless your heart has died, the combination of Redding's pleading vocals and the Mar-Kay horns will draw a tear.  Good choice to play at a funeral should you outlive your spouse (assuming you still love your spouse).   rating: **** star

2.) It's Growing  (Smokey Robinson - Moore) - 2:40

'It's Growing' opened up with some of the most melodic guitar Steve Cropper ever recorded and got better after that.   How could you not love a song with fishing-related lyrics?  You had to wonder why Volt didn't tap this one as a single.   rating: **** stars

3.) Cigarettes and Coffee   (Eddie Thomas - Jerry Butler - Walker) - 4:00

Slinky, bluesy ballad.   Yeah, the subject matter is very incorrect today.   Still, Redding seldom sounded as good.    rating: **** stars

4.) Chain Gang   (Sam Cooke - Cooke) - 2:58

There's no doubt Sam Cooke's original was a classic, but Redding's toughened-up cover had it's own charms, giving Cooke a run for his money.   One of the album's unexpected highlights ...   rating: **** stars

5.) Nobody Knows (When You're Down and Out)    (Jimmy Cox) - 3:10

The Jimmy Cox blues classic gets the full Redding treatment.   Ah, the fleeting nature of wealth and popularity.  Not sure if it was Booker T. Jones, or Isaac Hayes on piano.     rating: *** stars


(side 2)

1.) Good To Me  (Otis Redding - Green) - 3:45

If you want to hear a slice of deep '60s soul, this might be the place to start.   Stunning.   rating: **** stars

2.) Scratch My Back  (James Moore) - 2:45

Heavy on harmonica, the Slim Harpo original was good, but Redding's slowed down, Stax-ified version essentially appropriated the tune as his own.  rating: **** stars

3.) Treat Her Right  (Roy Head) - 2:10

Kudos to The Mar-Kay horns for kicking this one into another realm.   Didn't think Redding could be funky?   Oh yes he could.    rating: **** stars

4.) Everybody Makes a Mistake  (Eddie Floyd - Isbell) - 3:00

Perhaps the album's most straightforward blues number, 'Everybody Makes a Mistake' simply didn't standout against the rest of the album.    rating: *** stars

5.) Any Ole Way     (Otis Redding - Steve Cropper) - 2:32

Another Redding-Cropper original, 'Any Ole Way' was an obvious attempt to attract pop audiences.  Charming.   As good as the studio version was, the version found on his "Live at the Whiskey a Go-Go" was even better.   YouTube has a hysterical clip of Redding dancing and lip-synching the tune on television: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B12r1kiv0V4   rating: **** stars  

6.) 634-5789    (Steve Cropper - Eddie Floyd) - 2:50

Wilson Picket had the hit, but that didn't stop Redding from taking a crack at it. Slightly slower and bluesier, but not all that different than the Pickett hit.   rating:*** stars


Genre: soul

Rating: ***** (5 stars)

Title:  The Dock of the Bay

Company: Volt

Catalog: S-419

Year: 1968

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5008

Price: $10.00



I probably own 30,000 + albums, of which perhaps 100 I'd rate as 5 star performances.  This is one of those rarities.   I've also often wondered if part of my affection for this album stems from the tragic circumstances surrounding its release (that may be underscored by the fact the title track is one of my first radio memories).  Could be, but I suspect this album would have attained classic status regardless ...


Recorded after surgery to remove polyps from his throat, the title track was cut in a mammoth series of December 1967 recording sessions where Redding re-recorded earlier material, as well as a host of new songs.  The sessions wrapped up on December 7th, 1967.  The next day Redding and his backing band The Bar-Kays hit the road for a series of concert and television appearances.  Two days later Redding was killed when his Beechcraft aircraft crashed into a lake on the way to a concert in Madison, Wisconsin (the crash also killed most of The Bar-Kays).


Released in early 1968, the single '(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay' b/w 'Sweet Lorene' (Volt catalog number 45-157) was unlike anything else Redding had recorded.  Soft spoken and reflective, the track abandoned Redding's soul roots in favor of a stunning pop feeling.  Supposedly written while staying on a houseboat in Sausalito, California after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, the track quickly topped the US charts.  Volt subsequently pulled together a mixture of previously released singles, album tracks and unreleased material drawn from Redding's final 1967 recording sessions.  Produced by Steve Cropper, by all rights "Dock of the Bay" should have been little more than a throwaway retrospective.  Thankfully that wasn't the case.  Under Cropper's care the album served as a showcase for Redding's multifaceted talents.  It's all here - Redding the blues man ('I Love You More Than Words Can Say'), Redding the soul star (his duet with Carla Thomas on 'Tramp') and Redding the pop star ('The Huckle-Buck'). It also ends on the perfect note - Redding's disturbing 'Ole Man Trouble'.  Volt also tapped the album for a second single - 'Glory of Love' b/w 'I'm Coming Home (Volt catalog number 45-152).  Propelled by a wave of posthumous grief and publicity, the parent album hit # 4 in the States.


"The Immortal Otis Redding" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay   (Otis Redding - Steve Cropper) - 2:38

2.) I Love You More Than Words Can Say   (Eddie Floyd - Booker T. Jones) - 2:50

3.) Let Me Come Home   (Otis Redding - Booker T. Jones) - 2:53

4.) Open the Door   (Otis Redding) - 2:21

5.) Don't Mess with Cupid   (Steve Cropper - Eddie Floyd - Deanie Parker) - 2:28


(side 2)

1.) The Glory of Love   (Billy Hill) - 2:38

2.) I'm Coming Home   (Otis Redding) - 3:03

3.) Tramp   (Lowell Fulsom - James McCracklin) - 2:32

4.) The Huckle-Buck   (Roy Alfred - Andy Gibson) - 2:58

5.) Nobody Knows You (When You're Down and Out)   (Jimmie Cox) - 3:10

6.) Ole Man Trouble   (Otis Redding) - 2:36



Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Immortal Otis Redding

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD 33-252

Year: 1968


Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD

In a cutthroat business, it probably wasn't a major surprise to see ATCO release "The Immortal Otis Redding" so soon after Redding's untimely death.  Produced with loving care by longtime producer/collaborator Steve Cropper, musically the set offered up ten previously unreleased tracks that Redding had recorded during the Spring-Fall of 1967.  The 11th selection "The Happy Song (Dum-Dum-Do-De-De-Dum-Dum)" had previously been released as a non-LP single.  Sadly the quality of these songs only served to underscore what a tragedy Redding's death was.  There literally wasn't a bad song in the lineup.  Interestingly, the album managed to provide a view of both Redding's hardcore soul roots ("You Made a Man Out of Me" and "Think About It"), as well as his more recent moves towards a more commercial orientation ("Nobody's Fault But Mine" and "Champagne and Wine").  While hard to pick, personal highlights include "Amen" and "A Waste of Time".  Elsewhere, pulled as singles "Amen" b/w "Hard To Handle"  (ATCO catalog 45-6592) and "I've Got Dreams To Remember" b/w "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (ATCO catalog number 45-6612) both went top-40, while the parent LP hit # 58.


"The Immortal Otis Redding" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) I've Got Dreams To Remember   (Zelma Redding - Otis Redding) - 3:10

2.) You Made a Man Out of Me   (Deanie Parker - Steve Cropper) - 2:06

3.) Nobody's Fault But Mine   (Otis Redding) - 2:20

4.) Hard To Handle   (Allen Jones - Elvertis Jones - Otis Redding) - 2:09

5.) Thousands of Miles    (Otis Redding) - 2:09

6.) The Happy Song (Dum-Dum-Do-De-De-Dum-Dum)   (Otis Redding - Steve Cropper) - 2:40


(side 2)

1.) Think About It   (Don Covay - Otis Redding) - 2:59

2.) A Waste of Time   (Otis Redding) - 3:15

3.) Champagne and Wine   (Otis Redding - Roy Johnson - Allen Walden) - 2:49

4.) A Fool for You   (Ray Charles) - 2:55

5.) Amen   (traditional arranged by Otis Redding) - 3:20 




Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Love Man

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD 33-289

Year: 1969

Country/State: Dawson, Georgia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1049

Price: $30.00


Posthumous release number three ....  and who would have expected to hear a classic collection like this ?   Produced by Steve Cropper, "Love Man" collected  twelve tracks that were apparently recorded and set aside during various 1967 sessions.  The album reportedly include Redding's last studio performances; material completed shortly before his tragic December 1967 death.   Regardless of their histories, these twelve performances captured Redding, with backing from Booker T. and the MGs, and The Mar-Keys, clicking on all cylinders and, in spite of it's fractured beginnings, the set doesn't sound like an odds and ends offering. Kudos to Cropper for bringing such loving care to the project.   Seriously, it's one of those rare albums where there isn't a single bad song on the album.  Probably one of a dozen albums I've ever given so many four and five star ratings to.   ATCO certainly felt the same way, releasing five singles off the album.   So, against that backdrop how do you pick a favorite song ?   Hard to do, but if I had to single out one performance, it would be the title track which pulled everything together - killer tune; classic Redding vocals; sizzling support from the MGs and The Mar-Keys, but also served to reveal Redding's playful side.  fllow-up choices would be the tunes where Redding was playing around with ways to attract the pop audience - 'Direct Me' and 'Look At that Girl' scoring high.   Bottom line, this compilation made it easy to see why Redding remains one of soul's all time greats.  


"The Immortal Otis Redding" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) I'm a Changed Man   (Steve Cropper - Otis Redding - Cullipher) - 2:15  rating: **** stars

'I'm a Changed Man' opened the album with a breezy, almost jazzy number.  Well, as jazzy as a soul great like Redding could get.  Backing by Booker T. and the MGs and The Mar-Keys simply kicked this one into a different league.  I'm surprised the wonderful introductory section hasn't been sampled by scores of talent less poseurs.  And as someone who doesn't enjoy vamping, this is an exception to the rule.  You can almost feel the joy when Redding cuts loose with his stream of the moment vamps.

2.) (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher   (Gary Johnson - Carl Smith) - 3:03   rating: *** stars

Geez, shame on me for thinking Jackie Wilson actually wrote this one ...   As energetic as Redding's 1967 recording was, it's always sounded like a studio vamp, more than a completed performance.  Al Jackson's locomotive drumming provided the song's secret ingredient.   That said, Jackie Wilson's original was better, making this the album's lone "also ran" performance.

3.) That's a Good Idea   (Otis Redding) - 2:17  rating: **** stars

Along with The MGs, The Mar-Keys were such an important part of Redding's unique sound and that's seldom been as obvious as on this gritty soul number.    Yeah, the song was a bit heavy on the derivative side, but my gawd the man could vamp on a lyric !    

4.) I'll Let Nothing Separate Us   (Otis Redding) - 2:51  rating: **** stars

I don't think I've ever heard an artist who could pull off a pleading ballad like Otis Redding.  You would have thought the man was pleading for his life on this one.    

5.) Direct Me   (Steve Cropper - Otis Redding) - 2:18  rating: ***** stars

Steve Cropper's wicked little gritty fills combine with Redding's raspy delivery to make 'Direct Me' one of the album standouts.   How could radio have overlooked this one ?   Guess it was just too soulful for the airwaves.   Only complaint here is the song was too short.   

6.) Love Man   (Otis Redding) - 2:17  rating: ***** stars   

I constantly have to laugh when I realize how many people came to this song via the flick "Dirty Dancing".   In the big picture I guess it doesn't matter how you get there as long as you get there ...   Anyhow, 'Love Man' is simply one of Redding's most irresistible performances.   With a wonderful lyric (how can you not smile when you hear him singing "six feet one, weigh two hundred and ten; long hair ... real fair skin ..." this was a perfect shagging tune.  If you can sit still through this track, I'd suggest you quickly go see your doctor to make sure you are still alive.   ATCO tapped it as the second single off the LP.  


(side 2)

1.) Groovin' Time    (Otis Redding - Steve Cropper) - 2:46  rating: **** stars

With what almost sounds like a mash-up of New Orleans funk-meets James Brown, 'Groovin' Time' let  The MGs take a bow in the spotlight - particularly the Donald "Duck "Dunn and Al Jackson rhythm section.  Yes sir, it's groovin' time !!!  

2.) Your Feeling Is Mine   (Otis Redding) - 2:19  rating: **** stars

It took a minute to find its groove, but when it happened, with its spare, bluesy feel, 'Your Feeling Is Mine' was every bit as good as the rest of the album.    

3.) Got To Get Myself Together   (Otis Redding) - 2:25  rating: **** stars

Another track where Al Jackson and the MGs shine ...  Amazing how effortlessly Redding seemed to toss these up-tempo funky numbers out.   

4.) Free Me   (Otis Redding - Gene Lawson) - 3:06  rating: **** stars

A classic Redding ballad that literally squeeze every last ounce of energy out of you.    

5.) A Lover's Question   (Brook Benton - Jimmy Williams) - 2:52  rating: **** stars

One of three covers, Redding's take on 'A Lover's Question' was simply great.  Abandoning Clyde McPhatter's sweet, but dated doo-wop-ish arrangement, Redding gave the song an up-tempo, breezy arrangement, you could just feel Redding smiling through the song.   To my ears it sounded like an earlier effort, but what do I know   

6.) Look At that Girl   (R. Stewart - E. Morris) - 2:36  rating: **** stars

Built on a dynamite Dunn bass line, 'Look At that Girl' was another slice of Redding the pop star.   Yeah, it was pop with a deep soul edge and the backing singers were kind of irritating, but Redding's gleaming delivery ultimately won you over. 


The album spun off a series of five singles; many which were released on a world-wide basis:


- 1969's 'A Lover's Question' b/w 'You Made a Man Out of Me' (ATCO catalog number 45-6654)

- 1969's 'Love Man' b/w 'Can't Turn You Loose' (ATCO catalog number 45-6677)

- 1969's 'Look at the Girl' b/w 'That's a Good Idea' (ATCO catalog number 45-6723)

- 1969's 'Demonstration' b/w 'Johnny's Heartbreak' (ATCO catalog number 45-6742)

- 1969's 'Free Me' b/w '(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher' (ATCO catalog number 45-6760)



Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Tell the Truth

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD 33-333

Year: 1970

Country/State: Dawson, Georgia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1048

Price: $20.00


As long as the public was wiling to buy posthumous Otis Redding material, Stax and ATCO were willing to continue their partnership in order  to raid their vaults for material; even if it meant diminishing artistic and commercial returns.   And that's what makes 1970's "Tell the Truth" so amazing.   The fifth in a series of retrospectives, it wasn't a perfect album, but song-for-song there were way more home runs that strike outs on this collection.  The results were even more impressive when you realized that the Stax/ATCO partnership was rapidly deteriorating so there wasn't much reason for producer Steve Cropper to put a great deal of time and effort into the retrospective.  I have no idea how much effort actually went into the set, but Redding's catalog was seemingly so deep and so strong you had to smile when you realized these were the "dregs" of the archives.  Chronologically the set was a bit on the hodgepodge side with Cropper pulling together a mixture of material recorded during the 1965-66 timeframe ('Slippin' and Slidin'' and  'A Little Time') with more recent recordings ('The Match Game').   Mind you that wasn't meant as a complaint as it was uniformly enjoyable.   The other notable characteristics - no ballads.  Virtually every one of these twelve tracks was up-tempo, or at least a mid-tempo number.   Cropper's reflective liner notes were also worth reading.


"Tell the Truth" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Demonstration   (Otis Redding - Arthur Anderson) - 2:25

I guess it speaks volumes about Redding when you realize this track didn't see a release until ATCO got around to releasing the fourth in a series of posthumous collections.   Kicked along by some tasty horns, this was a nice slice of Redding funk.  One thing that's always puzzled me; the single carried a Redding - Arthur Anderson writing credit, while the album credited the song to Redding and Don Convay.   ATCO tapped this one as a posthumous 45.   rating: **** stars

2.) Tell the Truth   (Lowman Pauling) - 3:12

I've always loved the more commercial side of Otis Redding, but with a slinky, bluesy groove, 'Tell the Truth' was every bit as enjoyable.  Powered by Donald "Duck Dunn's thundering bass, it made for a near perfect late night groover.  My goodness the man could sing !!!   Jesse Dee name checked right before the blazing sax solo ?   rating: **** stars

3.) Out of Sight   (James Brown)- 2:16

Reportedly recorded in 1967, "Out of Sight' had a nice James Brown feeling (which made sense given Brown wrote it).   Hardly his most original or impressive perform ances, but that very laidback feel (along with a nice Steve Cropper solo), was part of what made this one special.   rating: *** stars

4.) Give Away None of My Love   (Otis Redding) - 2:45

Classic Redding with a melody that climbed in your head and wouldn't leave and a perfect example of how he could wrap that unique voice around a tune and make it special.  Icing on the cake - the song sported some of the coolest Stax horn charts ever recorded.  Amazing tune and ATCO tapped it as a single.  




- 1970's 'Give Away None of My Love' b/w 'Snatch a Little Piece' (ATCO catalog number 45-6766) rating: **** stars





5.) Wholesale Love   (Otis Redding) - 2:28

This is one of those Redding tunes that's a personal favorite.   I don't know if it's a reflection of Redding's growling, double tracked vocals (I've also read that the second vocal was Steve Cropper); the song's bouncy melody; the rollicking horns, or all of the above.     rating: **** stars

6.) I Got the Will   (Otis Redding) - 2:47

Redding goose-stepping is way into your heart !!!   The MGs seldom sounded as hot as here.   rating: **** stars


(side 2)

1.) Johnny's Heartbreak  (Otis Redding - Arthur Anderson) - 2:28

Yeah, Redding was the star of this mid-tempo ballad, but the song's secret weapon came in the form of Al Jackson's perfect drumming.   The way he effortlessly shifted tempos throughout the tune is simply stunning.  ATCO tapped the tune as a single. rating: **** stars

2.) Snatch a Little Piece  (Otis Redding) - 2:12

In spite of the title, 'Snatch a Little Piece' was actually a variant on the earlier 'A Little Piece'.  Good tune with Redding employing that nifty funk edge in his voice.   rating: **** stars

3.) Slippin' and Slidin'   (Richard Penniman - Edwin Bocage - James Smith - Albert Collins) - 1:56

The album's first disappointment ...   that's not to say Redding's stuttering cover wasn't good.  He brought considerable energy to the cover, but it just couldn't measure up to the other tunes on this set.   rating: *** stars

4.) The Match Game   (Otis Redding - David Porter) - 2:54

A perfect example of Redding's ability to write material with pop appeal.  The breezy lyrics were a hoot "you strike me and I'll be the flame ..."   Add in Booker T. Jones' wonderful keyboards, Cropper's treated guitar effects (which had a sitar-like sound),  and you had one of the album highlights.   rating: **** stars

5.) A Little Time   (Otis Redding) - 2:33

Apparently dating back to 1965 sessions, 'A Little Time' was old school, blues-soul tune.   Forget the pop edges he'd added to his latter sides.   Killer.  rating: **** stars

6.) Swingin' On a String   (Otis Redding) - 2:52

Redding and the MGs seldom sounded as giddy as on this bouncy closer.  rating: **** stars


Critics have been lukewarm to this one, but don't listen to them as this was simply a wonderful album that should be in any Redding fan's collection.