A gutsy, visceral affair that leaves you thinking that, with the power of music,...
Angus Taylor 2007
Recorded in a single day with the Mar-Keys (who included Isaac Hayes on keyboards and Steve Cropper on guitar) Otis Redding's third album, Otis Blue, was his first number one hit in the US soul charts and a huge commercial and critical success.
Standing at the crossroads of pop, rock, gospel, blues and soul, it's a set of short, punchy covers and originals, flawlessly ordered to ebb and flow between stirring balladry and foot stomping exuberance.
Three of the re-cuts featured are the songs of Sam Cooke, and of these, the moving "A Change Is Gonna Come" makes the most lasting impression. Redding's voice then injects some ambivalence into the Temptations' more blissfully rendered "My Girl", where despite his apparent happiness, hurt seems to be just around the corner.
There's even some interesting recycling of the Stones' "Satisfaction", written in thrall to Redding and his label-mates in the first place. As for his own compositions, "I've Been Loving You Too Long" was the biggest smash, while "Respect" was of course made famous by Aretha.
It's tempting to look for some faults here just for the sake of balance. But try as one might, they fail to present themselves, as the rawness of the playing, the sprightly rhythms of the upbeat tracks, and the grainy grief of Redding's voice reach in to your very core.
A gutsy, visceral affair that leaves you thinking that, with the power of music, anything is possible; Otis Blue was, and remains, his definitive statement.