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Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul

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Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 15, 1965
RecordedApril 19 and July 9–10, 1965
StudioStax Recording Studios in Memphis, Tennessee
ProducerJim Stewart, Isaac Hayes, David Porter
Otis Redding chronology
The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads
Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul
The Soul Album

Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (often referred to simply as Otis Blue) is the third studio album by American soul singer Otis Redding. It was first released on September 15, 1965, by Volt Records.

The album mainly consists of cover versions of other R&B and soul artists' hits, and, bar one track, was recorded in 24 hours over July 9 and 10, 1965, at the Stax Recording Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Otis Blue was critically acclaimed and became one of Redding's most successful albums; it reached number 6 on the UK Albums Chart, and was his first to reach the top spot of the Billboard R&B chart. Furthermore, it produced three popular singles, all charting at least in the top 50 on both the Billboard R&B and the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It is considered by many critics to be Redding's first fully realized album.[1]

Three of the eleven songs were written by Redding: "Ole Man Trouble", "Respect", and "I've Been Loving You Too Long". Three songs were written by Sam Cooke, a soul musician who had died a few months earlier. As was the case in the previous albums, Redding was backed by house band Booker T. & the M.G.'s, a horn section of members of The Mar-Keys and The Memphis Horns, and pianist Isaac Hayes.

Otis Blue is included in many "best album" lists, including Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Time magazine's list of the All-Time 100 Greatest Albums, it was voted number 90 in the 3rd Edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000), and appeared in Robert Dimery's "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die". Rhino Records released a two-disc Collectors Edition of Otis Blue in 2008.


Stax Records president Jim Stewart had released Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine" after hearing him sing it at an audition in 1962; and when it charted, he signed Redding to Stax.[2] Following the moderately successful Pain in My Heart and The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, both of which performed well in the newly established Billboard R&B LP chart but not in the Billboard 200,[3] preparations for the third studio album followed soon after. The album would be Redding's third studio album and second on Stax's sister label Volt.[4][5]


The Stax crew during the recording of Otis Blue, from left to right: Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, engineer Tom Dowd, David Porter, Julius Green of the Mad Lads (seated with his back to the camera), Andrew Love, Floyd Newman, Wayne Jackson, Isaac Hayes

Redding recorded the album with the Stax's house band Booker T. & the M.G.'s (keyboardist/bandleader Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn, drummer Al Jackson Jr.), Isaac Hayes on piano, and a horn section consisting of members of the Mar-Keys and the Memphis Horns. The album was recorded in a 24-hour session between 10 am July 9 (a Saturday) and 2 pm July 10, with a break from 8 pm Saturday to 2 am on Sunday to allow the house band to play local gigs.[6][7][8][9] As was the case with the previous album, engineer Tom Dowd came to the studios to assist the recording, dubbing Redding as a "genius" next to Bobby Darin and Ray Charles.[10] The album opens with "Ole Man Trouble", which was finished on the sessions earlier than other songs, and was later released as a B-side of "Respect".[3]

According to the drummer, Jackson, Redding wrote "Respect", after a conversation they had during a break in the recording session, in which he told Redding: "You're on the road all the time. All you can look for is a little respect when you come home."[11] An alternative story is told by Redding's friend and road manager, Earl "Speedo" Sims, who states that the song "came from a group I was singing with", and that even though Redding rewrote it, "a lot of the lyric was still there"; Sims adds: "He told me I would get a credit, but I never did".[12] Sims also states that he sang the backing chorus of "Hey hey hey".[3] The song used for the fifth track, "I've Been Loving You Too Long", had been previously recorded in mono with Booker T. Jones on piano and released as a single in April 1965, becoming a number-two hit on Billboard's R&B chart; it was re-recorded in stereo for the album.[3]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The majority of the tracks on Otis Blue are cover versions, including three by Sam Cooke who had been shot dead the previous December.[13] The album opens with the "mournfully harried" "Ole Man Trouble". For Claudrena N. Harold of PopMatters, the song is one of his most phantasmagoric tunes.[14][15] The lyrics deal with a man, who is "unable to escape the brutal realities of the blues",[14] and has been compared with Paul Robeson's "Ole Man River".[16] "Respect" was inspired by a quote of drummer Al Jackson, Jr., who allegedly said to Redding after a tour, "What are you griping about? You're on the road all the time. All you can look for is a little respect when you come home."[17]

Essentially a ballad, "Respect" is an uptempo and energetic song, which took "a day to write, 20 minutes to arrange, and one take to record", according to Redding.[16] Aretha Franklin covered this song in 1967 and with it topped the Billboard R&B and Pop charts.[18] Redding shouted to a woman for more respect, while Franklin ironically countered the song and transformed it into a "feminist hymn".[16] The next song is an energetic version of Sam Cooke's ballad, "Change Gonna Come"; a protest against racial segregation and disrespect for black people.[19] "Down in the Valley" is a funky cover of Solomon Burke's original, with whom Redding toured before the recording.[14][20] Nate Patrin of Pitchfork felt that the song "ratchets up both the gospel beatitude and the secular lust".[15]

The love song "I've Been Loving You Too Long" was co-written by Redding and The Impressions' lead singer Jerry Butler in a hotel near the Atlanta airport.[3] Redding's rendition of Cooke's "Shake" is again funkier. The song is about the club dancing in the so-called discothèques, which debuted in the early 1960s.[21] The song was described as "a hard-swinging, full-throated 2:40 of precision ferocity with a force that would flat-out explode during his live sets."[15] The last five songs are all covers by popular artists: The Temptations' "My Girl", written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White; Cooke's "Wonderful World"; B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby"; The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction", on which Redding sings "fashion" instead of "faction";[3] and William Bell's "You Don't Miss Your Water", which was characterized as "sorrowful country blues",[14] and has "one of the most devastating pleading-man lead vocals in the entire Stax catalog."[15] "Satisfaction" sounded so plausible that a journalist even accused the Stones of stealing the song from Redding, and that they performed it after Redding.[22] Music writer Robert Christgau describes it as an "anarchic reading" of the Stones' original.[23]


Otis Blue was released on September 15, 1965.[24] Stax's subsidiary label, Volt, released it in the US,[25] while Atlantic Records released the album in the UK.[24]

The album's commercial performance helped Redding cross over into the pop market.[26] Although it only reached number 75 on the Billboard 200 in 1966,[27] three of its singles charted on the Billboard Hot 100: "I've Been Loving You Too Long" charted for 11 weeks and peaked at number 21, "Respect" spent 11 weeks and reached number 35, and "Shake" spent six weeks and reached number 47.[28] Both stereo and mono pressing of Otis Blue charted in the United Kingdom; the former spent 21 weeks and reached number six in 1966, and the latter spent 54 weeks and reached number seven in 1967.[29] Two different pressings of the song "My Girl" also charted in the UK; a 7-inch single peaked at number 11 and charted for 16 weeks in 1965, and a reissued single in 1968 reached number 36 and charted for nine weeks.[29] "Satisfaction" peaked at number 33 and "Shake" peaked at number 28 in the UK.[29] On November 18, 2004, Otis Blue was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry, for shipments of 60,000 copies in the UK.[30]

Critical reception[edit]

Retrospective professional reviews
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[13]
Blender4/5 stars[23]
Memphis FlyerA+[6]
Q5/5 stars[31]
Record Collector5/5 stars[32]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[33]

Otis Blue has been regarded by music critics as Redding's best work.[26] Bruce Eder from AllMusic wrote that "Redding's powerful, remarkable singing throughout makes Otis Blue gritty, rich, and achingly alive, and an essential listening experience." He also felt the album "presents his talent unfettered, his direction clear, and his confidence emboldened".[13] Angus Taylor of BBC Music commented that it stands "at the crossroads of pop, rock, gospel, blues and soul", and asserted that the album contains "a set of short, punchy covers and originals, flawlessly ordered to ebb and flow between stirring balladry and foot stomping exuberance". He dubbed the album Redding's "definitive statement".[35] Blender music critic Robert Christgau called Otis Blue, "the first great album by one of soul's few reliable long-form artists" and gave its 2004 collector's edition four out of five stars, which he said, "comes with many useless alternate takes, but also with live tracks that preserve for history Redding's country-goes-uptown style of fun".[23]

Nate Patrin of Pitchfork Media cited the album as the 1960s' "greatest studio-recorded soul LP", and further stated that it is "a hell of a record, the crowning achievement of a man who could sound pained and celebratory and tender and gritty and proud all at once, with a voice that everyone from John Fogerty to Swamp Dogg to Cee-lo owes a debt to".[15] Claudrena N. Harold of PopMatters also praised the diverse sound, which, according to her, is a mixture of "Motown pop, the blues, British rock, and Southern Soul", although she cited Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul as Redding's best album.[14] Rolling Stone described the album as "Redding's true dictionary of soul, a stunning journey through the past and future vocabulary of R&B ... documenting a masterful artist rising to ... the immense challenge of his times."[36] In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Rolling Stone journalist Paul Evans gave Otis Blue five out of five stars and cited the album as Redding's "first masterwork".[33]


Otis Blue is included in many "best album" lists. NME ranked it 35 on its list from 1993 of the "Greatest Albums of All Time".[37] Then, NME ranked it 405 on their 2013 edition.[38][39] The album was also ranked 74 on the 2003 Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, and 78 in a 2012 revised list.[40] It also ranked 92 on Time magazine's list of the All-Time 100 Greatest Albums and included in Q magazine's Best Soul Albums of All Time list. The album appeared in "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die".[41] According to Acclaimed Music, Otis Blue is the 68th most frequently ranked record on critics' all-time lists.[42]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Ole Man Trouble"Otis Redding2:55
3."Change Gonna Come"Sam Cooke4:17
4."Down in the Valley"Bert Berns, Solomon Burke, Babe Chivian, Joe Martin3:02
5."I've Been Loving You Too Long"Redding, Jerry Butler3:10
Side two
2."My Girl"Smokey Robinson, Ronald White2:52
3."Wonderful World"Cooke, Lou Adler, Herb Alpert3:00
4."Rock Me Baby"B.B. King3:20
5."Satisfaction"Mick Jagger, Keith Richards2:45
6."You Don't Miss Your Water"William Bell2:53

Collector's Edition 2008[edit]

An expanded double-disc set edition of Otis Blue was released in 2008 by Rhino Records, which includes both the stereo and mono versions of the album with bonus tracks that include B-sides, live tracks, and previously unreleased alternate mixes.[14][15]

Disc 1 track listing
Includes mono version of Otis Blue
and selections from In Person at the Whisky a Go Go.
1."Ole Man Trouble" 
3."Change Gonna Come" 
4."Down in the Valley" 
5."I've Been Loving You Too Long" 
7."My Girl" 
8."Wonderful World" 
9."Rock Me Baby" 
11."You Don't Miss Your Water" 
12."I've Been Loving You Too Long" (Previously unreleased / Mono) 
13."I'm Depending on You" (Bonus track) 
14."Respect" (Previously unreleased / Mono) 
15."Ole Man Trouble" (Previously unreleased / Mono) 
16."Any Ole Way" (Bonus track) 
17."Shake" (Bonus track: Live 1967, Stereo Mix of Single Version) 
18."Ole Man Trouble" (Bonus track: Live at the Whisky a Go Go) 
19."Respect" (Bonus track: Live at the Whisky a Go Go) 
20."I've Been Loving You Too Long" (Bonus track: Live at the Whisky a Go Go) 
21."Satisfaction" (Bonus track: Live at the Whisky a Go Go) 
22."I'm Depending on You" (Bonus track: Live at the Whisky a Go Go) 
23."Any Ole Way" (Bonus track: Live at the Whisky a Go Go) 
Disc 2 track listing
Includes stereo version of Otis Blue and selections from Live in Europe.
1."Ole Man Trouble" 
3."Change Gonna Come" 
4."Down in the Valley" 
5."I've Been Loving You Too Long" 
7."My Girl" 
8."Wonderful World" 
9."Rock Me Baby" 
11."You Don't Miss Your Water" 
12."Respect" (Bonus track: 1967 version) 
13."I've Been Loving You Too Long" (Bonus track: Live in Europe) 
14."My Girl" (Bonus track: Live in Europe) 
15."Shake" (Bonus track: Live in Europe) 
16."Satisfaction" (Bonus track: Live in Europe) 
17."Respect" (Bonus track: Live in Europe) 



Country Certification
BPI (UK) Silver[30]


Additional personnel
  • Isaac Hayes – producer
  • David Porter – producer
  • Tom Dowdengineer
  • Jim Stewart – supervision
  • Yves Beauvais – reissue producer
  • Bill Inglot, Dan Hersch – remastering
  • Pete Sahula – cover photo
  • Haig Adishian – cover design
  • Bob Rolontz – liner notes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vladimir Bogdanov; Chris Woodstra; Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2003). All music guide to soul : the definitive guide to R&B and soul. San Francisco, CA: Backbeat Books. p. 568. ISBN 978-0-87930-744-8.
  2. ^ Steven Otfinoski (2010). African Americans in the Performing Arts. Infobase Publishing. p. 193. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bowman 1997, p. 57.
  4. ^ Freeman 2002, p. 77.
  5. ^ Gulla 2007, pp. 401–408.
  6. ^ a b Stephen Deusner. "A Memphis-music landmark, lavishly re-released". Contemporary Media. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  7. ^ John Metzger (May 19, 2008). "Otis Redding – Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (Album Review)". Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  8. ^ David Belcher (January 14, 1984). "Black star's posthumous come-back". The Glasgow Herald. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
  9. ^ a b Fricke, David (May 15, 2008). "Otis Redding: Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul [Collector's Edition]". Rolling Stone. Straight Arrow. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  10. ^ Bowman 1997, p. 59.
  11. ^ Mark Bego (March 22, 2001). Aretha Franklin: The Queen Of Soul. Da Capo Press. p. 96. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  12. ^ Peter Guralnick (May 2, 2002). Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom. Canongate Books. pp. 183–184. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  13. ^ a b c Bruce Eder. "Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Harold, Claudrena N (May 2, 2008). "Otis Redding: Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul". PopMatters. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Patrin, Nate (May 9, 2008). "Otis Redding: Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul (Collector's Edition)". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  16. ^ a b c Neil Spencer. "Otis Redding – Otis Blue (Collector's Edition)". Uncut. IPC Media. ISSN 1368-0722. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  17. ^ Black 2008, p. 71.
  18. ^ "Aretha Franklin – Charts & Awards – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  19. ^ Matthew Greenwald. "A Change Is Gonna Come – Otis Redding : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  20. ^ "Otis Blue Deluxe – antiMUSIC News". Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  21. ^ Matthew Greenwald. "Shake – Otis Redding : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  22. ^ Wyman & Coleman 1990, p. 480.
  23. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (May 2008). "Otis Redding: Otis Blue—Otis Redding Sings Soul". Blender. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  24. ^ a b Anon. (2007). "Otis Blue". In Irvin, Jim; McLear, Colin (eds.). The Mojo Collection (4th ed.). Canongate Books. p. 57. ISBN 1-84767-643-X.
  25. ^ Phelps, Shirelle, ed. (1997). Contemporary Black Biography: Profiles from the International Black Community. 16. p. 180. ISBN 0787612251.
  26. ^ a b Colin, Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin encyclopedia of popular music. London: Virgin Books In association with Muze UK. ISBN 978-1-85227-923-3.
  27. ^ "Otis Redding – Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  28. ^ "Otis Redding Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Hot 100. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  29. ^ a b c "Otis Redding". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  30. ^ a b "Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 10, 2011. Note: User needs to enter "Otis Redding" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. Select "More info" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history.
  31. ^ "Otis Blue review". Q. Bauer Media: 92. February 1993. ISSN 0955-4955. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  32. ^ Lewis, Alan (June 2008). "Otis Redding – Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul: Collector's Edition". Record Collector. Diamond Publishing. ISSN 0261-250X. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  33. ^ a b Nathan Brackett; Christian David Hoard, eds. (2004). The new Rolling Stone album guide. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8.
  34. ^ Crumb, Robert (January 22, 2005). "Otis Blue". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  35. ^ Taylor, Angus (December 7, 2007). "Otis Redding Otis Blue Review". BBC Music. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  36. ^ "Otis Blue review". Rolling Stone. Straight Arrow: 114. August 17, 2000. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  37. ^ "Greatest Albums of All Time". NME. IPC Media: 29. October 2, 1993. ISSN 0028-6362. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  41. ^ "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die". Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  42. ^ "Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Otis Redding – Awards : AllMusic". Retrieved October 4, 2012.


External links[edit]