What we’re listening to (#9): Otis Redding

Otis Redding is widely considered to be one of the greatest soul singers of all time, and has been a seminal artist in the genres of Soul and Rhythm and Blues – despite tragically passing away in a plane crash at just 26 years old, his six albums provided inspiration to many artists, from George Harrison to Kanye West and Jay-Z.

Having been inspired by Little Richard, Redding’s unique voice and emphatic live shows made him one of the greatest musicians of the 1960s – usually we only write about a single album that we’re listening to, but with the King of Soul, I just couldn’t narrow it down.

A personal favourite of mine, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ is an incredible cover of the Rolling Stones’ hit – Redding introduces brass fanfares and his emphatic voice which always has a little growl to give a little oomph to the classic:

The Monterey Pop Festival was seen to be Otis’s breakout concert, and he had previously been performing in front of mainly African-American crowds. 

It’s well known that Redding didn’t have an incredible vocal range (in fact, it’s widely reported that Johnny Cash had a larger vocal range than him) – that didn’t even matter. What did matter was the absolute passion and emotion that he sang with. It was almost unrivalled, and ‘These Arms of Mine’ perhaps show this best:

Otis Redding had that Bob Dylan-like quality where you knew that what he was singing was straight from the heart, that it was completely honest – you can feel the love he sings about in slow ballads like ‘Cigarettes and Coffee’, and you can feel the electricity running through him when sings numbers like ‘Security’. And of course, how could one forget his universal hit, ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay’:

This article was written by Mo Hafeez


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