Album Reviews

Otis Redding

Complete And Unbelievable... The Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul

Artist:     Otis Redding

Album:     Complete And Unbelievable...

Label:     Rhino

Release Date:     10/07/2016

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Rhino Records is celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul with a 2‑disc Deluxe Edition (CD, vinyl and digital). The gifted, accomplished and influential singer-songwriter, beloved for hits like “Respect” and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” left us suddenly in 1967 at the tender age of 26. His fifth and final studio album was recorded at the historic Stax Studios in Memphis, where so much vinyl was spun into gold. Fans of Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke or Wilson Pickett will enjoy this Redding reissue. Mono and stereo mixes of the original album are included, along with previously unreleased outtakes like “Trick Or Treat” and “Loving By The Pound.” Besides dual mixes of “Try A Little Tenderness,” plus an outtake, there’s a fourth version recorded on the European tour of the Stax/Volt Revue in 1976.

As a measure of Otis Redding’s talent, “Try A Little Tenderness” (by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly and Harry M. Woods) merits a closer look. In two beautiful recordings (1945, 1960), Frank Sinatra reassured his female audience by focusing his full attention on their feelings. “Women do get weary/ wearing the same shabby dress.” In 1976, Redding did a 180, letting male listeners know it tore him up badly to see his woman “anticipating things she may never possess.” Redding’s lyric changes, whether intentional or accidental, would be copied in later covers: “Young girls they do get weary/ wearing that same shaggy dress.” Three Dog Night, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Joe Cocker were clearly influenced by Redding, whose singular interpretation mined hidden gold in the lyrics.

Other standouts: Redding sings “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa,” as he did when teaching horn arrangements in the studio. He agonizes in 6/8 (not 3/4) over “that beautiful, wonderful, marvuelous [sic] and glorious, that cotton-pickin’ Tennessee Waltz.” And he’s getting it all off his chest in “She Put The Hurt On Me.”

– Annie Dinerman

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