Otis Redding: The Complete Stax/Volt Singles
Including every 45 Otis Redding cut during his legendary reign at Stax Records, the massive three-disc hard booklet collection, Otis Redding: The Complete Stax/Volt Singles, includes B-sides, hits and live versions of the amazing King Of Soul’s output.
The plodding staccato piano backing to the perfect, sweet “These Arms of Mine” opens disc one. Then we are into the chunk backing to Otis’s screams on “Hey Hey Baby,” the silly horn bleats behind a send-up of “Mary’s Little Lamb” and equally laid back horns and crinkly guitar of “Something Is Worrying Me.” There’s lots of that plaintive Otis wailing on these 24 earliest of his sides here. “Mr. Pitiful” is here, one of Otis’s most fantastic vocals over a driving beat, his absolute owning of a cover of “Satisfaction” (I love the horns running the riff here) and of course the incendiary “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.”
Disc two opens with “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song),” a masterful, controlled piece of guitar twinkling and Otis’s equally masterful voice on this slow sly funk number. My personal all-time favorite horn opening sets up that can’t-catch-your-breath vocal performance of “Try a Little Tenderness,” one of the best male vocal performances ever set on a pop record. The slow and sweet “Tell It Like It Is” is here, as is a roiling piano and perfectly punctuated “Hard To Handle” is every bit of what The Black Crowes would try for decades later. Jesus H. Christ does it get any better than “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” – really great song, great voice, great guitar by the legendary Steve Cropper?! A really funky “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” ends the 24 on this disc.
The third disc features a live “Poppa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” the band behind Otis every bit as hot as James Brown’s ever was. There are also two Christmas singles: an over-stuttering “White Christmas” and “Merry Christmas Baby,” with the latter certainly a smoother, poppy read. “My Girl” just floats about as perfectly as you’d expect, as does the great “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher,” and there are live versions (again) of “Try A Little Tenderness” and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” here. The first just chunks along at about a shuffling boil that see’s Otis screaming in front of those horns stabbing behind him, with his “Got got got got got” and “Sock it, sock it, sock it” raising goose bumps and fevered applause from the crowd. “Tenderness” is just all Otis cool. He’s just chewing the vocals and elongating and playing it where he wishes.
Otis Redding: The Complete Stax/Volt Singles is a must-have collection, no doubt about it.