Top 100 Album Review: #74 – Otis Blue, Otis Redding (1965)

Otis Sings Your Favorite Songs…That You Prefer By Someone Else.

The originals and covers just don’t beat out other versions.
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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #74/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

Let’s play a game. Who do you think of when I say “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction?” How about “My Girl?” Does “Respect” make you think of anyone in particular? I doubt Otis Redding’s name bubbled up to your consciousness, but on this album, Otis will remind you how many songs you like by other people. Whether an original or cover, this material only makes you wish you were listening to the other and BETTER version

[OVERVIEW]

Otis Blue is Otis Redding’s third album. Of the 11 songs, eight are covers and three are originals penned by Otis himself. Three of the covers are Sam Cooke songs who was shot to death the previous December. I assume they were done as some sort of homage to the late, great singer. The most notable original song of note is “Respect” which was later to be an Aretha Franklin standard.

The studio was filled with lots of talent for this album: Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Isaac Hayes, the Mar-Keys. It only took 24-hours to record, and with any older album, there is a lot of lore about what exactly happened and who contributed where. Maybe Otis wrote “Respect” all by himself. Or maybe, he really stole it from another band member and he never got credit. Guess we’ll never know 😨😨😨.

[TRACKLISTING]

1. Ole Man Trouble 2:35
2. Respect 2:03
3. Change Gonna Come 4:13
4. Down In The Valley 2:55
5. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long 2:53
6. Shake 2:38
7. My Girl 2:53
8. Wonderful World 3:09
9. Rock Me Baby 3:22
10. Satisfaction 2:43
11. You Don’t Miss Your Water 2:49

[BEST ORIGINAL SONG…THAT YOU PREFER BY SOMEONE ELSE: Respect]

I mean, it’s not bad, it’s just such a different version that lacks the gusto of Aretha’s rendition. It makes you wonder what alternate universe you are in.

What you want
Baby, I got it
What you need
Do you know I got it?
All I’m askin’
Is for a little respect when you get home (just a little bit)

[SONG YOU MOST LIKELY PREFER BY SOMEONE ELSE #1: A Change is Gonna Come]

Sam Cooke’s version is one of pure, unadulterated soul. His version is untouchable. Otis once again lacks the spark that cemented the original.

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I’ve been running ev’r since
It’s been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will.

[SONG YOU MOST LIKELY PREFER BY SOMEONE ELSE #2: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction]

At least this one is at least interesting: instead of a rock, everything is kind of replaced with a horn section. FYI: it’s not interesting in a good way.

When I’m drivin’ in my car, and the man come on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more about some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination

[SONG YOU MOST LIKELY PREFER BY SOMEONE ELSE #3: My Girl]

Really? How were you going to displace the Temptations?

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day
When it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May
I guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)

[CONCLUSION]

Otis Blue is synonymous with going to see a live cover band: sure, it’s all the tunes that you like, but it never beats out the version you have in your mind. All it can do is ride on the coat tails of your original infatuation.

Listening to “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Wonderful World” only made me rekindle my love for Sam Cooke…and immediately run back to his songs. He also gets upstaged with his original material: Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” is so much better.  This album is a reminder that there is better music out there, and I think that’s the only thing from this album I’m going to listen to.

Other People’s Takes:

  • An Ocean Roars: “This biggest misstep is his cover of The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. It loses its punch under Reddings soulful vocals. The music almost feels like high school band performed it.”
  • All Things Music +: “Otis Blue includes covers of three songs by Sam Cooke, Redding’s idol, who died the previous December in 1964. Their styles couldn’t have been more different; Cooke smooth and sure, Redding raw and pleading.”

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

3 thoughts on “Top 100 Album Review: #74 – Otis Blue, Otis Redding (1965)”

  1. I drop in on you and there is so much content. I see Otis and my choice is made. CB is a big Otis. I’ve wore out ‘Live In Europe’. Casual, if you ever get a chance catch the doc on the ‘History Of Stax Records’ . Well worth the time. I’ll agree on a few of the covers above. I prefer the ‘Live’ versions. The cool thing is you’re listening to OR and that’s a good thing. Better Otis material out there . Check it out. Later. CB

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    1. I am a fan of Otis generally. I learned how to play “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” here recently. I’m just amazed what gets put on a top 100 album. I’ll def follow up on that documentary — old music is where it is at!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think back in the day the record companies tried to get artists like Otis to sing popular songs of the day. This album is Otis singing which is always good but yeah what is this “top 100” thing. So much better OR tunes out there.
        I just recently listened to a Wes Montgomery recording doing pop hits, again it’s Wes so it’s good but he did so much that was better.
        Enjoying you taking out these films/recordings and giving them your take, refreshing. Maybe when I’m done going over your stuff we can come up with our list.
        “The Casual And Not So Smart (CB) 500”

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