Thursday, December 4, 2008

Getting Down in London and Paris

Otis Redding was one of the greatest soul singers who ever lived, and his untimely death (he was only 26 years old when his plane crashed) is one of the tragedies of popular music. With such a short recording career, there are not too many albums of Redding's work to be had, although there are at least a dozen greatest hits collections. Well, there's a new record to add to the essential Redding listening, released this month by the Concord Music Group's recently revived Stax imprint. Live in London and Paris is a CD containing two sets from the spring of 1967, when Otis was on the road in Europe as part of the Stax/Volt Revue tour. His backing bands here are none other than Booker T. and the MG's and the Mar-Keys, another fantastic Stax backing band. The first set, from London, comprises 8 tunes with originals ("Respect," "Try A Little Tenderness") and some key covers ("(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Day Tripper") thrown in for good measure. The songs differ greatly from their studio versions, with the energy level amped up to 11, but what is truly amazing is how the Paris set, comprising the same 8 tunes plus 3 extras, also differ greatly from the previous versions on the same album. Just hearing the Booker T. Jones play behind Redding's introduction to "Try A Little Tenderness" is worth the price of admission alone. All in all, this could be the best reissue I've heard all year. If you have any interest in the man, pick up a copy of Otis Redding: Live in London and Paris. Giving us half the album, just one of these sets, would be short but worth it; the fact that they're both on there is not only added value but also ups the historical value of the release to nerds like me. Even better, you can get it from the link below at eMusic, the preferred online music retailer of 2DOS.

Otis Redding: Live in London and Paris [eMusic]

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