Dreams to Remember (The Otis Redding Anthology)
Otis Redding’s impact on popular music is nearly incalculable, especially when you consider how brief his career. By the time he had died in 1967, in a plane crash near Madison, WI, Redding had led the Stax/Volt label’s revolution of rhythm & blues in the sixties. His plaintive wail was so forceful it moved one cynical DJ to dub him Mr. Pitiful, which inspired Redding and collaborator/Booker T. and the MG’s guitarist Steve Cropper to pen a hit song of the same name. That collaboration was at the center of a fusion between country soul and rock `n’ roll, but Redding went even beyond that. He was soulful, spiritual, energetic, and sexy all at once. Perhaps more amazing than that, he escaped this world with his reputation spotless, not just as a gentleman and family man, but someone who was considerate of all those around him.
Even when he died, Redding was apparently getting ready for a career shift that some saw as a fusion of soul and folk, the evidence lying in the posthumously released “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” — his biggest hit. Well, it’s pretty much all here in Rhino’s anthology: “Try a Little Tenderness,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now),” “These Arms of Mine,” “Tramp” (the classic duet with Carla Thomas), “Satisfaction,” and “Respect,” which Aretha Franklin turned into a classic herself. And the second of the two-disc set ends with snippets from his monumental performance at the Monterey Pop Festival earlier in 1967.
If you’re new to Redding, this anthology is a great, relatively affordable collection (about $25) with the usual stellar Rhino packaging, liner notes, etc. But, if you’re a collector — and you’ve got about $60 to drop — you’re more than covered with Rhino’s 1993 four-disc box set, Otis! The Definitive Otis Redding, which includes more of everything. If there’s anything impressive about this collection, it’s how Redding’s power remains intact even with an anthology basically cut in half. Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025; http://www.rhino.com