Customer Reviews: The Very Best Of Otis Redding
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Though his first hit, "These Arms of Mine" only peaked at #83 in 1963, it wasn't until 1965 that Otis Redding's career began to make headway. With his gritty soulful pipes, and soul music accompanied by a brass section and a strong rhythm section on those foot-stomping numbers, his brief impact on the music scene hinted at things to come had he not died aged 26.

The slow-dance of "I've Been Lovin' You Too Long" is simply heartwarming, nice for the last dance of the evening. His first Top 40 hit reached #21.

Redding describes "Respect" as a song taken away from him by a certain girl. While his version charted at #35 on the pop charts and #4 on the R&B, that certain girl, a Ms. Aretha Franklin, took it to #1 for two weeks (pop) and four times that long on the R&B charts. But Otis's original still has that original stomping rhythm in it. Ditto for "I Can't Turn You Loose," a #11 R&B hit that deserved better on the pop charts. Small wonder the Chamber Bros. covered it the year after he died. And "Mr. Pitiful," which barely missed the Top 40, has a shaking funky rhythm that would presage early 70's style soul.

Though a #6 hit for Ted Lewis in 1933, Otis Redding's version of the tender "Try A Little Tenderness" made it to #25, (R&B #4), higher than the other covers of the rock & roll era, though Three Dog Night came close with it in 1969 at #29. Rod Stewart did his hand of it on his Out of Order album.

He and Carla Thomas duet and rap with each other in "Tramp," where she gives him a hard time about his clothing and haircut, about how he's too country and not cosmopolitan. But he's okay with it, and holds his own. There is a brief horn melody that the Beatles later used or may have used in the "Hey la hey la hello-a" section that closes "Hello Goodbye."

His performance at the Monterey Pop Festival (June 1967) was considered to be one of the highlights, as Michelle Phillips, one of MPF's prime organizers, saw Otis as THE reason she wanted the festival in the first place. He performed a cover of the Stones' "Satisfaction," which had reached #31 a year prior. His version featured a brass arrangements, making his version an interesting contrast to the original. He also did a rousing cover of Sam Cooke's "Shake" and reached out successfully to the flower power crowd. Seeing the footage of him at Monterey doing this song made me want to get his music.

It was thus unbelievable that he only had six months left to live after Monterey. He then recorded a song quite different from his usual oeuvre. Three days later, he and four members of the Bar-Kays died in a plane crash on 10 December 1967. The track, the brooding and reflective "Sitting On The Dock of the Bay," became his only #1 pop hit, three months after he recorded it, and staying there for four weeks, also spending three weeks atop the R&B charts. Countless others, including the Dells, Sammy Hagar, and notorious R&B song shredder Michael Bolton have covered it, but Otis's version remains the most respected and brightest. I first heard this in Top Gun, when Tom Cruise explains to Kelly McGillis how it was his mother's favourite song.

Of his other posthumous singles, "The Happy Song" reached #25, and is a return to his usual style, while "I've Got Dreams To Remember" featuring a nice female backing chorus, fits in with his slow songs a la "I've Been Loving You Too Long" and "Try A Little Tenderness."

What would Reddings' career have been like had he survived? His success at Monterey hinted at bigger things, definitive crossover potential, though among the R&B pantheon, he still would've faced stiff competition from Motown artists like the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and the Temptations. Very Best Of is just that, a reminder of what was and what might have been.
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on January 24, 2001
Listening to this great CD will compel one incontrovertable conclusion: Otis Redding died way too young. Heaven only knows what wonderful songs we could be enjoying today, had his plane not crashed back in 1967.
But thankfully, listen we can, to some phenominal music from that too-short career. He could burn down the house (as he did in Monterrey) with cuts like "I Can't Turn You Loose", "Satisfaction" and of course "Respect". He could also croon with some of the most deeply soulful love songs, like "Pain in my Heart", and the incomparable "I've Been Lovin' You Too Long To Stop Now". There is no need to mention "Dock of the Bay" recorded just three days before his death. Words are inadequate to describe that song.
This is a must have CD. Too many are now recorded as the "Best of", but this is one which really deserves that moniker.
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It was the summer of 1967. Otis Redding was in the midst of the performance of his life at Monterey International Pop Festival. What he was referring to of course was the way Aretha Franklin had turned his song "Respect" into one of the biggest hits of the year. His version topped out at #35 on the pop charts a couple of years earlier. But I digress. Otis Redding was just beginning to hit his stride as summer turned to autumn in 1967. This veteran performer had been around for a while. The fact is that up until this point he had made the Billboard Hot 100 a total of 19 times although his records usually ran out of gas somewhere in the middle of the chart. His tunes fared much better on the Soul/R&B charts where 8 of them had made it into the Top Ten. It is really difficult to understand why the man had not had greater commercial success up until this point. After taking a few months off Otis Redding returned to the studio in early December 1967. There he recorded a song he had co-written with Steve Cropper. Everyone thought it was a mistake. His wife hated it. Three days later Otis Redding was dead at 26, a victim of a tragic plane crash in Wisconsin.

When the story appeared in the newspaper I remember thinking to myself "Who is that?" And although I had been collecting records for about three years I had never heard of him. Despite his enormous talent Otis Redding had just not quite connected with general audiences. Less than two months later in January of 1968, Volt records released that tune his wife and friends hated so much. "(Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay" went all the way to #1 on the Pop charts and remained there for a month. Everyone was now beginning to realize just how talented this man had been. There are a few different Otis Redding collections around but I find this to be the best of the lot. You'll hear his version of tunes that went on to become hits by other artists like 1965's "I Can't Turn You Loose" and his dynamic version of the great blues standard "Try A Little Tenderness". In the meantime, you'll also enjoy the exhilirating work of the Stax/Volt house band who were undeniably at their peak during this time. For me other favorites on this compilation are the 1968 hit "The Happy Song (Dum-Dum") and Otis' high energy duet with Carla Thomas "Tramp". An informative 12 page booklet with interesting biographical information and chart data for each track is also included. Believe me you cannot go wrong with this one. Highly recommended.
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on March 24, 2000
I ordered this CD after hearing and falling in love with "My Lover's Prayer". "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" had always been a favorite of mine as well, so I decided to order the CD. What an amazing voice Otis Redding has! Not only can he belt out a tune, but the feeling and emotion that he puts behind each and every lyric are inspiring. I feel his pain, his joy, his love, ETC. so clearly as a result of that beautiful voice. The music is jazzy and well performed as well. I will buy more of his stuff.
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on December 6, 2000
What can I say. I picked this up on a whim, and before the second song had finished playing it became my new favorite CD. Really, I just wanted Dock of the Bay and That's How Strong My Love Is. Well believe it or not, those songs dont even stand out next to some of the stuff on this CD that I'd never heard before. I went out the very next day and picked up the second volume of this collection. Otis Redding was the man.
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on March 11, 2002
Otis Redding died at the age of 26 in a tragic plane crash. It's sad to think of how much he accomplished in such a short time and makes me think of Buddy Holly if only these two men have lived what other wonderful pieces of music would they have made. Redding's sad and emotionally charged "Sittin on the Dock of the Bay" was recorded only days before he died and remains one of the best known tunes around. It is a masterpiece in itself. His song "Respect" which was made known by Aretha Franklin, she released his song and made it popular even though he wrote it. "Try a little tenderness" is an awesome soul song and if anyone wants to hear a great cover of it check out the Duets Soundtrack which Paul Giamtti and Arnold McCuller covered. "Satisfaction" "Pain in my heart" and the wonderful "These arms of mine" as well as the classicly known "I can't turn you loose" add to the wonder of this collection. A great buy for any Redding fan getting his feet wet.
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on April 21, 2000
Otis Redding sure did my heart good with these songs. "That's How Strong My Love Is" makes me cringe with joy every time I hear it; it will definitely be the 'bride and groom first dance song' at my wedding. If you're thinking of buying this CD, don't hesitate, you'll fall in love with it.
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It hurts my heart to think about Mr. Redding. I lived in Madison, Wisconsin when on December 10, 1967 his plane went down in Lake Monona. I was only 8 but when "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" started to flood every radio station it seemed shameful to learn he had been flying to give a concert in my town, kind of like how Dallas is for JFK. It's funny: the very first sentence of the liner notes spells it Lake "Monoma." And Wikipedia says Lake Monona is in Waterford, WI. No...wrong county.

Jeez. I didn't know he wrote "Respect." Or dozens of other great songs. I can't believe he was only 26. Some musicians can write music...some can belt out the songs. When one musician can do both, well, he was born in 1941 and so would be only 74 years old now. Think about his trajectory and what his lifetime body of work could have been.

I'm tearing up a bit: right after "Dock of the Bay" is the last song on this album: "I've got Dreams to Remember."

Otis: we'll remember you always.
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VINE VOICEon July 10, 2001
How do you like your soul? Haunting and mournful? Otis does that - in Pain in My Heart and I've Been Loving You Too Long. Do you like it raw and powerful? Otis does that in Respect and Satisfaction. Love songs? Try My Lover's Prayer. When I first looked at the CD - I wondered why Dock of the Bay was not the last song. It just seemed fitting that the CD would close with Otis' posthumous hit. But I've Got Dreams to Remember serves, in my opinion, as a more apt closing track. We've got Otis to remember - and this CD does a great job of helping people discover and/or rediscover a remarkable talent.
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on December 29, 1999
This album is without a doubt the best of Mr. Redding. I can't really express the feelings I experience when listening to Otis but they're feelings no other artist can give me. "My lover's prayer" takes me to another world and I just love it! Otis Redding's music is a must for all.
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