Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Otis Redding & Carla Thomas [extended]

  • Dictionary of Soul [Volt, 1966]
  • King & Queen [Stax, 1967] A-
  • The Immortal Otis Redding [Atco, 1968]
  • Love Man [Atco, 1969] A
  • Tell the Truth [Atco, 1970] B+
  • Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival [Reprise, 1970] A-
  • The Best of Otis Redding [Atlantic, 1972]
  • Recorded Live: Previously Unreleased Performances [Atlantic, 1982] B-
  • Remember Me [Stax, 1992] Choice Cuts
  • Live at the Bohemian Caverns [Stax, 2007] Dud
  • Live in London and Paris [Stax, 2008] **

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Otis Redding: Dictionary of Soul [Volt, 1966]
[CG70s: A Basic Record Library; CG80: Rock Library: Before 1980]

King & Queen [Stax, 1967]
I used to think Live in Europe, also a 1967 release, was Otis's finest; now I think it's among his worst, and for the same reason--too many concessions to an English audience that wanted fast rock and roll songs. My own personal favorite--probably among my five most-played LPs--is The Immortal Otis Redding, which showcases the unduplicated warmth, tenderness, and humor of his ballad singing. By contrast, this one--cut basically as a novelty, with the two singers in the studio, according to the story, on separate days--is pretty ephemeral. Vintage Otis, that's all; Carla Thomas was never anything special, but with Redding counterposing his rhythms, she sounds like she could scat with Satch himself (well, almost). Enormously vivacious, catchier and funnier that most soul music, and I know several people who would kill me if I didn't include it. A-

Otis Redding: The Immortal Otis Redding [Atco, 1968]
[CG70s: A Basic Record Library; CG80: Rock Library: Before 1980]

Otis Redding: Love Man [Atco, 1969]
Although the tender passages aren't quite up to his best, this is Redding's best lp since "Immortal." Dig especially the scatting on "I'm a Changed Man." A

Otis Redding: Tell the Truth [Atco, 1970]
Atlantic is obviously scraping bottom on Otis--there's nothing here I'd play to prove he was the greatest soul singer who ever lived, and several of the performances sound exploratory. But almost every track offers some special moment--the curly little horn part on "Give Away None of My Love," Otis's offer to bet "five dollars and a quarter or even more" on "Snatch a Little Piece," his tributes to fellow Maconites James Brown and Richard Penniman. And even when he's got-ta got-ta got-ta do his shtick he's one of a kind. B+

Otis Redding/The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival [Reprise, 1970]
Historically, what's happening is two radically different black artists showboating at the nativity of the new white rock audience. Both have performed more subtly and more brilliantly, even on live albums (Live in Europe, the first side of Band of Gypsys), and maybe I'm nostalgic. But while at the time I admired Redding ("the love crowd" pegged that audience perfectly) and was appalled by Hendrix ("a psychedelic Uncle Tom," I called him, and that's one of the dozens of things he was), in retrospect they seem equally audacious and equally wonderful. As evocative a distillation of the hippie moment in all its hope and contradiction as you'll ever hear. A-

Otis Redding: The Best of Otis Redding [Atlantic, 1972]
[CG70s: A Basic Record Library; CG80: Rock Library: Before 1980]

Otis Redding: Recorded Live: Previously Unreleased Performances [Atlantic, 1982]
Eight cuts from the engagement that produced In Person at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go, recorded in April 1966, twenty months before he died, and unreleased until late 1978. Only two of three new titles are attached to new songs, including an "A Hard Day's Night" that's apparently a warm-up for the "Day Tripper" on Live in Europe. Sounds good anyway, atonal horns and all, but it's docked a notch for making one wonder why almost all the classic studio stuff is currently unavailable. B-

Otis Redding: Remember Me [Stax, 1992]
"Trick or Treat"; "Send Me Some Lovin'"; "Cupid" Choice Cuts

Carla Thomas: Live at the Bohemian Caverns [Stax, 2007] Dud

Otis Redding: Live in London and Paris [Stax, 2008]
Hot mix of two concerts that duplicate the one memorialized as Live in Europe way back in 1967 ("Try a Little Tenderness," "Respect"). **

See Also