Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Otis Redding — The Best: See & Hear

This two-disc set isn't for fans as devoted as my friends who named their son Otis after the "King Of Soul," whose life was cut tragically short at age 26 when he died in a plane crash with members of his backing band The Bar-Kays in Wisconsin on Dec. 10, 1967. But those just discovering Redding may find this set valuable.

The 12-song CD is a hits collection that includes ("Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay," "Respect" (which became an even bigger hit for Aretha Franklin), "Mr. Pitiful," "Pain In My Heart," "That's How Strong My Love Is," "The Happy Song (Dum-Dum)" and Redding's interpretation of The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction."
More interesting is the 12-track DVD of performances filmed by D.A. Pennebaker, who's probably best known for his Bob Dylan documentary, Don't Look Back.
The first seven songs were shot in black and white at the April 7, 1967 stop of the Stax/Volt Tour in Oslo, Norway. Booker T. & The MG's act as the backing band, and also take centre stage for "Green Onions." Sam & Dave, who interact more with the crowd and sweat more than Redding, step forward for "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" and "Hold On! I'm A Comin'."  
Redding, oozing charisma while never over-emoting like too many of today's R&B/soul singers, covers Sam Cooke's "Shake," The Temptations' "My Girl," "Satisfaction" and the 1930s standard, "Try A Little Tenderness."
The final five songs are all Redding from his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival two months later. Pennebaker shot in colour this time, and Redding's vivid performance is brought to additional life as more attention is focused on the contributions of The Mar-Keys horn section. He performs "Shake," "Satisfaction" and "Try A Little Tenderness" again, but there are also renditions of "Respect" and "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)."
Bill Dahl's four pages of liner notes include quotes from MG's guitarist and Redding songwriting collaborator Steve Cropper and '60s R&B star Jerry Butler.
Otis Redding: The Best See & Hear will be released by Shout! Factory on Oct. 20.

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