Sunday, August 21, 2016

Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul

So I just listened to Endless, and if Blonde is anything like it it'll be kinda of boring and then end on a mind fuck of I don't know. But not good. So to combat that I decided to pick something that does indeed have songs, that aren't complete snooze fests. This is the fifth studio album by southern soul legend Otis Redding. Now what do I have to say about this guy.... Well first off he's amazing. This also sadly happens to be his final solo studio effort released during his lifetime (the Carla Thomas duet King & Queen album the next year, followed by Live in Europe). So why not review this and hear the last album this man made before he passed. October 15th, 2016 is the 50th anniversary of this album, but since that month is devoted to Halloween Month, I'll do this now. Something else I want to mention, just really fast, is I will review all the albums from the debut of Pain in my Heart to at least final posthumous Tell the Truth (possibly do live albums after that too). Just a side note.
  1. Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song): Opening the album is a horns that are pretty promising. I don't really like the refrain, I just can't get into it. But the song's verses are pretty solid and I like the groove. There's a chill feeling to it, and the second refrain isn't so "bad". I mean it feels like they aren't fucking up I guess. I do like the feeling though, all though it's also not the saddest song he's ever done. So I don't know if Sad is the right title for this. It's not that I don't like this song, I just think there are far stronger tunes by Otis that should be hits or more well known I guess.
  2. I'm Sick Y'all: I actually do really like the keys on this, and can totally see this song being sampled for hip-hop music. Like to be honest this is a better song to sample than say, Try a Little Tenderness just for the vocal loop *cough*. The drums have a punch to them and then once the organ plays I could so easily see that being looped, maybe cutting out his vocals though. Fuck you could use this entire track besides his vocals. Anyways I really like the feeling of this, its got some great sounds and the arrangement keeps me interested. I like how he has his vocals and there's a bit of a grit rather than say a Jackie Wilson. It works quite well. I know I barley talked about the music but I really can only say its a solid beat, groove and I really like what I'm hearing. I could picture someone crusin' for burgers in daddy's new car to a song like this. Or in a movie crusin' for chicks. 
  3. Tennessee Waltz: Here we have another cover of a tune Sam Cooke did. Yes this time it was also a cover for Sam, Pee Wee King originally performed it. Now what does this version have to add to the version I've heard. Where Cooke had a swing to his, and made you wanna dance, this feels more mournful. Now that might actually be better fit to the material, and the story presented here. The arrangement is very Stax ballad-esque like his other ballads and slower numbers. Now I do enjoy this, but I still love the Cooke version so much it's kinda hard to LOVE this. But I do quite enjoy this soulful version. The song thought doesn't hit the highs or lows or build of two tracks down, but also that really wouldn't work for the given material. I do like the contrast in terms of this and the last song though. This is a bit quieter in the beginning where the last was more of a jam or groove, and it's so much more enjoyable in the context of the album.
  4. Sweet Lorene: I like the groove to this, and totally reminds me of Booker T. The descending riff, of melody rather... Hook(?), played on the horns is really great. This is a bit more energetic than I'm Sick Y'All. The thing they have in common though, is they're both solid tunes. My only real complaint is there's like a part where its more of an interlude for the guitar or a quick fill. They could have had a guitar solo there or something. As I've mentioned it's a lively number, of which who's horns remind me of Blues Brothers (which some of this band was in). Good ole Memphis Soul jammin. 
  5. Try a Little Tenderness: He's a cover of the famous song that dates back to 1932 and was recorded by Ray Nobel Orchestra. There exists many other versions, but this arrangement in my opinion, drunfs them. Even the Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and Sinatra versions. The building of this song, the tension added, not one second isn't necessary to this songs progression. It's like a movie that cut the fat and only left in everything needed to get from point A to point B, but in the best possible way.... possible. I love the keys, the organ's fucking great and I love the piano in this. Isaac did a great job and the horns fucking work and there's a sort of sigh of relief and ease the pressure after that fucking drop of the title. Maybe it's because I'm stupid, but I can't really think of many songs that are this effective. This really is a masterpiece of a song and arrangement, and also not to mention execution. The only complaint is the version I got his this dead air in the track and I feel it kinda takes away a bit, but once you can't hear it it's fine (and it's the worst for this track).
  6. Day Tripper: This is a cover of the 1965 Beatles pop rock classic. Now to be completely honest,  I prefer this to his cover of Satisfaction. I like the bass in this, and it's nice to hear a different take no this track other than the one I've come to be able to play in my head without even hearing a second of it. I mean, this is much more soul and gospel inspired than the original acid/rock version. I mean I do prefer the original, but this still is a neat rendition that works and is pretty fun. 
  7. My Lover's Prayer:  This opens side 2 and is a soft ballad type song. If you've heard It's Too Late or I've Been Lovin' You Too Long then you'll know how this sounds. I do like this track, but I don't have much to describe this with. It's solid and has some nice arpeggios and it's a sweet soulful song, but I just don't connect with it the way I do some others.
  8. She Put the Hurt on Me: This has a great groove, and some nice rotor organ on it. But other than that I can't say much that I haven't already said about the other songs. This isn't that distant a cousin of earlier grooves. I like the pronounced bass on this though. This feels a bit more fun though, like goofy maybe....
  9. Ton of Joy: My Private Joy is definitely a ton of this. There is a guitar no this that kind of reminds me a bit of Dock of the Bay. I don't know it's kinda boring a bit to be completely honest. Like by this point the album has lost a lot of steam.
  10. You're Still My Baby: This is a cover of the Chuck Willis tune of the same name. This also happens to be the only cover on side two.I think the biggest problem with this is the fact that it's so easy to mix this up with just about any other track so far on side two. That's not a good sign. The problem is if you can easily mix everything up hows that good song writing. It's not.
  11. Hawg for You: I do like the bluesy feeling to this tracks intro, and hey there's something that doesn't sound like the other songs. I mean I'm not in love with the bluesy feeling, but it's a good change. It has this weird sort of Memphis soul feeling to the blues there it doesn't quite feel like Chicago blues. I mean it's pretty neat, the piano is probably my favorite part. But in reality it's kinda forgettable to me, to be honest. Like I'd be more okay with this if this was the last two songs (in terms of doing something different).
  12. Love Have Mercy: I don't remember anything about this track. It was okay, but it isn't anything to write home about. It sucks to because this could have ended so epic, but no.
Overall I have to give this album a 6.4/10. Is every song here amazing, I mean it depends on how you look at it. Overall the album is best consumed front to back, or maybe at least a full side at once (1-6 or 7-12/or my preferred 1-6 and nothing on side two). The second way is actually how I reviewed the album. Yeah there isn't a huge variety, either soft or grooves, and you could argue they almost all sound the same but Otis is a fun guy. There's a charm about him that doesn't piss me off about him you know. But this album has great moments, it's just the lack of variety outside of the fine details it kinda boring. But really side two hurts this album so fucking bad.

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