- Redding’s posthumous release finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
- This ’60s LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce
- This vintage Plum and Tan label LP plays pretty darn quietly for an original Atco pressing – we’ve never heard one quieter
- “…any Otis Redding recordings should be considered welcome (if not mandatory) additions to all manner of listeners.”
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, real person singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 50 years old), 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.
Simply put, what won our shootout was the copy that had the least amount of grit and spit on Otis’s vocals, the most space, the most natural and immediate presentation of the singer with the most correct tonality.
What the Best Sides of The Immortal Otis Redding 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.
What We’re Listening For on The Immortal Otis Redding
- 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.
I’ve Got Dreams to Remember
You Made a Man Out of Me
Nobody’s Fault but Mine
Hard to Handle
Thousand Miles Away
The Happy Song (Dum-Dum-De-De-De-Dum-Dum)
Think About It
A Waste of Time
Champagne and Wine
A Fool for You
After the career of Otis Redding was cut tragically short in December of 1967, the tape vaults were plundered on several occasions to present fans with new product. The Immortal Otis Redding (1968) was the second posthumous long-player created from the artist’s backlog of material. Of the 11 selections, only the 45 rpm side “The Happy Song (Dum-Dum-De-De-De-Dum-Dum)” would have been familiar to enthusiasts of the late vocalist. As notated on the rear of the original jacket, these were among the last tunes Redding cut during what turned out to be a prophetic three-week stretch of sessions — concluding just days prior to his untimely passing.
One of which is the emotive opener “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember,” which bear two disparate sets of lyrics — including one by Redding’s spouse Zelma Redding. However, the words on the version commencing this effort were actually penned by Joe Rock, whose primary claim to fame was as author of the Skyliners’ doo wop smash “Since I Don’t Have You.” The midtempo “You Made a Man Out of Me” is marked by the hypnotic rhythm lines of Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass). It joins the preeminently funky “Hard to Handle” — which easily bests the Black Crowes’ early-’90s modernization — and the sublime soul stomper “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” as prime paradigms of his inimitable command. The Memphis Horns provide a profound sense of empathy to the aching “Thousand Miles Away,” while the somber irony of the Redding original “A Waste of Time” ranks alongside his best ballads.
The remake of Ray Charles’ “A Fool for You” provides an ideal vehicle for Redding to explore his R&B roots. It likewise leads one to beg the hypothetical possibilities of an entire project dedicated to Redding’s interpretations of sounds that influenced him. Those very musical roots definitively manifest themselves in the closing spiritual, “Amen.” Although Redding is credited with the arrangement, he was undoubtedly impacted by the Impressions’ 1964 hit that took a similar approach to the simple sacred singalong.
On the whole, it can be argued that The Immortal Otis Redding wasn’t quite on par with the half-dozen studio albums that the vocalist cut during his lifetime. By the same token, it should be acknowledged that any Otis Redding recordings should be considered welcome (if not mandatory) additions to all manner of listeners.