Otis Redding

Otis Redding's Official Website!

By Jen Shenton

WHEN: Active throughout the 1960’s — died 10th December 1967, aged 26.

CULPRITS: Singer in Johnny Jenkins & The Pinetoppers (1960-62); solo career (1962-67), along with the backing band The Bar-Kays (1967)

ALBUMS: Pain In My Heart (1964); The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads (1965); Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965); The Soul Album (1966); Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (1966); King & Queen (with Carla Thomas, 1967) / Posthumous albums: Dock of the Bay (1968); The Immortal Otis Redding (1968); Love Man (1969); Tell The Truth (1970) / Live albums: Live in Europe (1967); In Person at the Whiskey a Go Go (1968); Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival – with the Jimi Hendrix Experience (1970); Recorded Live: Previously Unreleased Performances (1982); Good to Me: Live at the Whisky a Go Go Vol. 2 (1993); In Concert (1999); Live in London and Paris (2008); along with numerous collections: official and unofficial; Stax or otherwise

HOW: I borrowed — who am I kidding? I completely stole it — The Soul Album (1966) from my dearest Mum almost 14 years ago as a mere pup of a girl. It is the most worn CD I own. I’ve given it first-aid more times than I care to remember but you know what … it still works straight from the sleeve. I’d listen to this album in my bedroom, lying with my head hanging over the edge of the bed watching myself sing the upside-down words in a mirror, pumping my legs and shaking my hands in the air at what I deemed “appropriate moments” and then rolling over to try to convey (with fist clenches and silent wailing) the voice I could hear in my head. Now? He’s one of the places I always go back to, and once I’m there, I know exactly why I’m here.

WHY: This is a harder question to answer than I thought. When I was 12, “Why?” was an often asked question but when it came to music it was usually followed by an “ohmygoshIlovethissong” and nothing more. In retrospect, this artist grew me up. I initially stole the album to be able to join in with conversations when the grown-ups were having a party which, for a 12-year old, is a strangle parallel to hold – surely I should be trying to impress my friends, not grown-ups? Clearly, I was born at the wrong time. But for whatever reason, he stuck to me … and I to him. He can transport me to 1966 by way of 1996, in much the same was as B.B King or Buddy Guy, and with an “It’s early in the morning, about a quarter to three” I feel present, like there’s nothing missing because every song I’ve heard, every clip I’ve seen — he’s never not there — he’s distilled into everything the whole time. It makes no difference to me that I don’t carry the reference point of actually seeing him live because to me, he is always live. His voice offers up an emotive resonance that people take years to hone, whereas he had it coming out of the gate. In lung-fulls. Often his words are simple, but shoot straight to the point without a muddle of metaphors and are none the less soaked through with soul and honesty and beating heart. Old-fashioned? Absolutely. But if that makes him my soul-filled Grandpapa then for that, boy oh boy, do I love him.

SONGS: The problem with a small catalogue followed by an enormous posthumous list is that the perfect versions get harder to find and the repetition is rife. My list is full of first stop originals, muddled in with a few live samples, interesting cover versions and some glorious hide-away tracks. I’ve also kept it fairly chronological as the fact his debut album was released when he was 22-years old is something that should be stamped into the back of your head from first listen. Luckily for me, the 1960s were home to the 3-minutes-and-under track so I’ve been able to include pretty much everything this introduction warrants, in my humble opinion — my only notable absence being an ass-kicking version of Try A Little Tenderness (Live In London & Paris) at a fantastic 7:02 minutes in length. There are 26 songs, one for every year of his too-short but soul-brimming life.

LINK: Unfortunately, with the release of iTunes 9, we are no longer able to create playlists from songs in the iTunes store that we do not own.  Until this problem is remedied, 80MFL suggests listening to our featured artists’ songs on LaLa.  They are a wonderful online service that lets you play entire songs and albums for FREE the first time you listen (and it’s free to sign up!)  Please click on our list below to go to Otis Redding’s page on LaLa. —Ed.

Click on the list for our Otis Redding iMix

Jen Shenton is a 26-year old wanderlust-filled, flip-flop-wearing talker of words. She’s been writing a blog since December 2008, and it’s very much a brain-dump outlet with musical conversations going on in the background. Currently, her days are divided up with her second degree, in English, and figuring out how to be a small, yet ever-growing fish in a gloriously big pond.

~ by Brad East on September 14, 2009.

2 Responses to “Otis Redding”

  1. I often wonder what masterpieces he would have left us with had he lived to a ripe old age. Nonetheless, I’m thankful for what he did leave: some sweet, sweet soul that I’ve enjoyed many times in my 30-some-odd years on this earth. A lot of favorites on this playlist.

  2. Great list! One of the most forgotten legends, imo.

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