This is not the posthumous masterpiece that Love Man was, that great album that was in the can when Otis died nearly three years ago. This is where the anthologists start reaching back into the vaults for the not-so-brilliant material that was left off earlier albums and songs that were beginning to get there for future albums.
That’s just by way of saying that if you have never heard an Otis Redding album before, this is not the first one to buy. But it’s unthinkable that you haven’t heard Otis before, and if you really heard Otis, you would have all the other albums anyway. And if you got all the other albums, then you are in luck, ’cause….
Here’s another. Otis was so good, so great a singer, a composer and an arranger, that everything he touched after he established his own identity (leaving the Little Richard thing early on) is suffused with his innate dynamism, warmth and love.
The MGs were at their best when fronted by Otis Redding. This record is more of that: the Stax-Volt sound like you haven’t been hearing it recently. Listening to this combination in new songs brings home again how good they are: they move like a Super-8 Creedence Clearwater on something like “Wholesale Love.” The arrangements on this record are characterized by the contrasts and blends of the Memphis rhythm section with some unusually pop/commercial horn lines, not usually associated with straight RB. Otis was always reaching out.
Otis does versions of big hits by the other two Macon natives, James Brown and Little Richard; “Out of Sight” and “Slippin’ and Slidin’.” Although I think Otis was the best singer out of that Georgia burg, these versions aren’t the proof.
The best stuff is Otis’ own: “I Got The Will” is a beauty. None among the rest are fully realized, but all of them are demonstrations of how great Otis really was.