My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Original Album is tracks 1-11
Brief Background: Otis Blue was recorded in a 24 hour period from July 9 to the 10th, 1965, with a break being taken only so the backing musicians could a play a local gig. Speaking of those backing musicians, they include the Stax house band (Booker T & the MG’s) the horn section of the Mar-keys, The Memphis Horns, and Issac Hayes on piano. The album was released in September of 1965.
What I think: Well we’ve hit upon one of my favorite albums of all time from one of my all time favorite artists. As a whole, I love the roller-coaster of emotions this album induces. There is pain and sadness, playfulness, love, excitement and more sometimes even within the same song.
“Old Man Trouble” is the wonderful ballad of a man forever down on his luck I love the slow drawn out horns. We all know “Respect”, but Redding’s original version (which was supposedly written in 20 minutes during the recording session and completed in two takes), has a great looseness to it. I love the groove of the drums here alternating between a booming bass and a machine gun snare. “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” is Redding’s most pained song (and a good candidate for the most pained vocal of all time) and the album closer “You Don’t Miss Your Water” is only slightly behind. There are some great covers as well. Especially the recently deceased, Sam Cooke’s “Change Gonna Come”, “Shake” and “Wonderful World”. My favorite cover here though is “My Girl” which replaces the Motown standard of big backing vocals with the Southern Soul sound of humungous horns. This version takes an almost perfect song originally done by The Temptations and somehow improves on it by leaps and bounds.
Otis Blue is not a perfect album though. The B.B King song “Rock Me Baby” seems like filler compared to everything else here. And even with Keith Richards’ opinion that Redding and his backing musicians did “Satisfaction” correctly using horns in place of one of the guitar riffs, I’ve always preferred The Stones version to Redding’s. In the end though that closer of “You Don’t Miss Your Water” puts a wonderful bookend on the album that started with “Old Man Trouble”.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? It’s one of my albums ever, is there any question?
Rating (Out of 5): 4.5
Amazon Review (Out of 5):5
Is this my first time hearing this album? No (12/54)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 77%