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Archive for July 26th, 2013

Review: Otis Redding, “The Complete Stax/Volt Singles Collection”

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Otis Stax Volt SinglesOtis Redding was just 21 years of age when Volt Records issued his first single for the label, “These Arms of Mine” b/w “Hey Hey Baby,” in October 1962. The latter is a solid if unremarkable riff on rockabilly (“Hey, hey, pretty baby/Baby, you sure is fine…Every time I look at you/You drive me out of my mind!”) but the torrid, smoldering A-side reveals a singer-songwriter far older than his years. Otis Redding couldn’t have known then that he was living on borrowed time; he would, in fact, perish just five years and a couple of months following the release of that first 45. But in those crucial 60+ months, Redding released a series of singles filled with the essence of what we call soul music. Shout! Factory has, for the very first time, compiled the As and Bs of Redding’s Stax/Volt singles in one package, with each one in its original mono single mix. Redding’s posthumous Atco singles, drawn from the Stax/Volt sessions but released after Stax’s split from original distributor Atlantic, are all here, too. The Complete Stax/Volt Singles Collection (826663-13488, 2013) offers 70 songs on 3 CDs, all heart-rending slabs of R&B from an artist whose every work is precious.

There’s a consistency of sound and performance on these 70 brassy sides, released between 1962 and 1972, roughly five years after Redding’s December 1967 death. (Part of CD 2 and all of CD 3 consists of posthumous releases.) Redding brought out the best in the Stax staff, working with producers Jim Stewart, Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Booker T. Jones, Al Jackson, Jr., Isaac Hayes and David Porter, and singing in front of Booker T. and the MGs and the Mar-Keys. Even more impressively, Redding wrote the majority of his singles. (For a detailed look at Otis Redding, songwriter, see Ace’s recent anthology Hard to Handle: Black America Sings Otis Redding.)

Take a closer look after the jump!

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Written by Joe Marchese

July 26, 2013 at 07:52

Posted in Box Sets, Compilations, Otis Redding, Reviews

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