Otis Redding – The Dock of the Bay

More Otis Redding

xxxxx

  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, and plays as quietly as the originals Atco LPs ever do
  • It’s a well-recorded album – the better copies are big, rich and smooth, yet the vocals are clean, clear and present
  • We love Otis Redding’s albums, but finding clean copies of his classics is all but impossible these days
  • 5 stars: “…this is an impossible record not to love … Cropper chose his tracks well, selecting some of the strongest and most unusual among the late singer’s orphaned songs… No one could complain about the album then, and it still holds more than four decades later.”

This vintage Atco pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable OTIS REDDING singing live in your listening room.

The best copies had an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

What the Best Sides of The Dock Of The Bay Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1968
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Otis Is The Man

We’re always on the lookout for Otis Redding records with good sound. In our experience finding them is not nearly as easy as one might think. For those who do not have the patience to pursue the best early pressings, there are some pretty good sounding Heavy Vinyl reissues still in print for those who are looking for vinyl to play. We used to recommend them. Not sure how we would feel about them now…

What We’re Listening For on The Dock of the Bay

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay 
I Love You More Than Words Can Say 
Let Me Come On Home 
Open The Door 
Don’t Mess With Cupid

Side Two

The Glory Of Love 
I’m Coming Home 
Tramp 
The Huckle-Buck 
Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down And Out) 
Ole Man Trouble

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

Dock of the Bay is, indeed, a mixed bag of singles and B-sides going back to July of 1965, one hit duet with Carla Thomas, and two, previously unissued tracks from 1966 and 1967. There’s little cohesion, stylistic or otherwise, in the songs, especially when the title track is taken into consideration — nothing else here resembles it, for the obvious reason that Redding never had a chance to follow it up.

Despite the mix-and-match nature of the album, however, this is an impossible record not to love. Cropper chose his tracks well, selecting some of the strongest and most unusual among the late singer’s orphaned songs: “I Love You More Than Words Can Say” is one of Redding’s most passionate performances; “Let Me Come on Home” presents an ebullient Redding accompanied by some sharp playing, and “Don’t Mess with Cupid” begins with a gorgeous guitar flourish and blooms into an intense, pounding, soaring showcase for singer and band alike.

No one could complain about the album then, and it still holds more than four decades later.