Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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OTIS REDDING
Otis Blue--Otis Redding Sings Soul
LABEL

Rough Georgia soul singer who died at 26 gets the precious-jewel treatment he deserves

Cut in 24 hours in July 1965, with 8-2 off for the sidemen's club gigs, Otis Blue is the first great album by one of soul's few reliable long-form artists. This "collector's" double-CD, which includes a welcome mono mix that obliterates the extreme channel separations of the era, comes with many useless alternate takes, but also with live tracks that preserve for history Redding's country-goes-uptown style of fun--even emoting "I've Been Loving You Too Long" like his whole future depends on it, he jives a little. But the prize is the 33-minute album itself: three Redding originals, including "Respect," plus a bunch of sometimes playful, sometimes tearful covers he helped make standards. Two peaks: a bumptious takeover of Sam Cooke's "Shake" and an anarchic reading of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," an up-to-the-minute smash Redding first heard the day of the session.

Blender, May 2008