Happy 55th: Otis Redding, THE GREAT OTIS REDDING SINGS SOUL BALLADS
55 years ago this month, the late Otis Redding released his second studio album, an LP which offered a blend of classics and originals, spawning a top-10 hit with the Redding / Steve Cropper-penned single “Mr. Pitiful.”
Co-produced by Jim Stewart and Booker T. & the MG’s, THE GREAT OTIS REDDING SINGS SOUL BALLADS was recorded at Stax Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, where engineer Tom Dowd decided to install a two-track recorder during the course of recording the aforementioned “Mr. Pitiful.” The addition of this piece of equipment meant that the instrumentation is in either one channel or the other, while the vocals are only in one channel. (The difference in the sound is highly evident when listening to the LP on headphones, we can assure you.)
The album includes a number of songs which remain well known to this day, including Redding’s version of Roosevelt Jamison’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is” and the Redding / Phil Walden co-write “Come to Me.” In addition, Redding also tackles tunes by Sam Cooke (“Nothing Can Change This Love”), Chuck Wills (“It’s Too Late”), and “For Your Precious Love,” which was a hit for Jerry Butler and The Impressions.
THE GREAT OTIS REDDING SINGS SOUL BALLADS wasn’t a huge chart hit – it only climbed to #147 on the Billboard 200 before beginning its descent – but it did spawn four hits on the R&B Singles chart, with “Mr. Pitiful” hitting #10 on that chart as well as #41 on the Hot 100. Long story short: it is, like the man who recorded it, great…but you probably already figured as much.
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