1001 Albums: Otis Blue

#51

Album_51_Original.jpg

Artist: Otis Redding

Album: Otis Blue/Otis Sings Soul

Year: 1965

Length: 32:22

Genre: Soul / RnB

 

“Do me wrong, honey, if you wanna to
You can do me wrong honey, while I’m gone
But all I’m asking
Is for a little respect when I come home, ooh, yeah now”

 

Exciting news. Today I’m leaving on vacation down to Florida for a good 10/11 days. It’s a much needed vacation I feel. I’ll finally get a week to just not think about anything and just enjoy myself. The de-stressing will do me good before I make my first steps into moving to a new city. I’ll be clear-minded and ready to go fresh and relaxed.

My dad and I have made the executive decision that we’ll drive straight through. For those who don’t know, Montreal to Florida is about a 23 hour drive. No stops, except to eat and pee, we’re determined to get there and get there ASAP. No time to waste. Don’t worry, we’ll be sharing the driving duties, wouldn’t be fair for one person to take it all, especially since we’ll be driving over night.

I’m debating whether I should just keep the albums playing as I drive down, It would be a perfect ooportunity to just listen to a whole bunch in a row and get through them quickly. The only problem is I won’t be able to take the time to write about them as I drive down, leaving me backed up with a ton of posts to crank out and no way of doing it. It’ll be hard to gather my thoughts for every single album if I’ve listened to a good chunk of them in a row, but at the same time, I really just want to listen to them. Who knows, we’ll see when I get there.

So, before leaving I decided to give a listen to the next album on the list: Otis Blue (Or how I learned to stop worrying and had Otis Redding sing some soul to me). I knew of Otis before, so had an idea of what I might possibly be getting into. I wasn’t the most excited and was preparing myself for something that might have been a little underwhelming or forgettable (Solomon Burke comes to mind). I was never crazy about Otis Redding, so this was just going to be one of those albums that I get through and it’s done. Nothing to really think about, which made me nervous because that meant it’d be really difficult writing a post about.

I am so happy that I was so wrong. I did not expect what I got out of this album at all. I loved it way more than I thought I would. I loved it so much I played it a second time so my dad could listen to it with me. That’s how much I loved it.

This album is a powerhouse of an album. The backing band is filled with so much talent. I mean look at this: Booker T. and the MG’s, Issac Hayes, The Mar-keys and The Memphis Horns. They weren’t fooling around when it came to recording this. Otis Redding knew what he was doing and he was ready to put his all into this one. He was creating a record that would stand the test of time and he wanted to make sure that he delivered a soulful and ear-melting record.

He succeeded beautifully. The album is so cohesive and strong that you can’t even tell where the Originals begin and where the covers end. They’re blended together so well that it flows from one song to the other without you questioning the change and pace. He sings with so much soul on every song that the pop songs he covered (Particularly My Girl and Wonderful World) are stripped of their original pretence and changed and moulded into something that comes across as way more genuine and real. When The Temptations sang their way through My Girl, it felt cheesy and poppy, but when Otis does it it drops it down to a more realistic vibe that you believe Mr. Otis when he talks about his girl. It’s not just some idealised look at it, it’s truthful and honest.

Speaking of how strong his covers are, it actually becomes incredibly difficult to tell if he even is singing a cover or it’s an original piece of his. Every song that passed by I recognized and knew (especially since a lot of their original counterparts were sued in a lot of movies that take place in the 60s) and found myself questioning if this was the original or not. I did a little research and was surprised to find that Otis Redding is the original writer of the song Respect, which was made famous by Aretha Franklin who took it as her own and turned it into a Woman’s Anthem. I had absolutley no idea he did it first and he did it damn well (although I’ll be honest Aretha’s packs more of a punch than his. It sounds way more powerful when the woman is asking the man for respect rather than the other way around).

The one that threw me off the most was Satisfaction. When it came on and the iconic riff started to blast through my speakers, I had to do a double-take. Wait a minute… Satisfaction? But… didn’t the Rolling Stones do Satisfaction originally? Wait… was it a cover? Is this an Otis Redding Original? Are they both covers? This can’t be right. What threw me off was the time frame of it all. This album came out in 1965… I wasn’t sure when the Rolling Stones came out with it. A little research showed me that although the Rolling Stones are the original writers of the song, both versions came out so close together that people were actually accusing The Rolling Stones of taking it from Otis Redding, when the truth is the opposite. I can see why though. This cover is definitely way better than the original. I was never a fan of the original. It’s definitely the most iconic version of it, but I always found Mick Jagger’s singing to be way to cool for the subject matter he’s singing. It never felt honest. I mean, think about it… The Rolling Stones singing about not getting satisfaction? Really… you guys didn’t get any Satisfaction? You couldn’t get girls? You were paranoid about the media even though you were dominating it and setting the trends? Yeah… right. When Otis sings it he adds a whole new layer to it. I can believe he is dissatisfied with what’s going on around him and he sings with much more of a punch that adds that needed texture to the song. This was my second favourite version of Satisfaction I have heard to date (Devo’s being number 1) and I have to say Otis has tremendous talent if he makes you doubt The Rolling Stones.

All in all, I have to say this was a happy surprise for me. There wasn’t one song that fell flat for me and you can tell the time and energy was put into every single one to make sure they delivered the whole way through, instead of relying on filler to fit around they’re few singles. Any one of these could have easily been sold as a single and would have done just as well as the rest. The more I get through this list, the more I find myself loving Soul. Something about the genre just feels so great. Every singer really sings from deep within to belt out honest performances and Otis is no exception here. He really brings every song to life and adds new layers to otherwise lackluster songs, bringing them up to high standards.

Well, it’s time for me to start getting ready to head out. I still haven’t made up my mind about what I’m going to do yet in terms of the albums but I guess I’ll just play it by ear (Get it? music… listening… ears…? huh?)

Song of Choice: Satisfaction

-Bosco

 

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