Monday, January 31, 2011

The Ultimate Otis Redding

Otis Redding - The Ultimate Otis Redding

Brandon Russell - I'll be your resident guest blogger on behalf of the Huntington Beach Public Library. When I'm not doing this, you can find me searching through the library's music catalogue or shelving books on the adult floors.

Let me start by saying that I don't profess to be an expert. Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson are ostensibly the industry's true pundits. Who knows? Telling people they can or can't sing is I guess reserved for those with only the keenest ears and bad temperaments. I'm still a bit incredulous.

Going to college I never found the time to take History of Rock & Roll. My world wasn't radically turned on its head after listening to my sister's secret record stash like William Miller's was in Almost Famous. Growing up my relationship with music never went past what was on the radio. That has drastically changed thanks to the internet and community resources like the library's media center. Don't get me wrong, radioland plays some great stuff, but there is so much more out there that goes overlooked. And believe me, there is some truly amazing music out there, you just have to be open minded and know where to look.

Of course, this is all a matter of opinion. We may not share the same tastes. Our tastes may be identical. My hope is that this blog will reinvigorate your spirit to explore, rather than consume what Ryan Seacrest says is new and hip. I like the latest and greatest hype bands same as anyone else, but my goal with this isn't to discover tomorrow's new Coachella band, but to introduce you to the forgotten songs/albums/artists you wouldn't have otherwise heard.

When I'm not doing this, you can find me searching through the library's music catalogue or shelving books on the adult floors. If we run into each other, say hi, ask questions, give me suggestions; I'm here to help.

I immediately knew who I'd choose for my first post if given the opportunity. Evocative, passionate, and tender, Otis Redding is an artist who came into my life a few years ago per a friend's suggestion, and he's been one of my favorites ever since. Coincidentally, the same album I listened to back then is in the library's catalogue.

For a career that barely lasted five years, Otis Redding's ability to convey deep emotion through his powerful, affectionate voice has certainly stood the test of time, and at the very young age of twenty-six, was held in similar esteem to that of the then late Sam Cooke, even garnering him the "King of Soul" crown.

The Ultimate Otis Redding covers a number of Redding's favorite chart toppers, leading off with some a few of his most well known songs, including (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay. Incidentally, it was a song he recorded just three days prior to his death in 1967, and also his most famous.

The first half of The Ultimate exhibits a man of great romantic despair, truly beautiful love ballads, last song of senior prom material, whereas the second half ups the tempo with his more exuberant high energy and signature shouting. A true showman, Otis Redding could have you dancing and crying to the same song and everything in between.

If you are new to Redding's music, or even a returning listener, I implore you start with These Arms of Mine, That's How Strong My Love Is, and I've Been Loving You Too Long on the highest tolerable volume. You will feel Redding's pain, understand his hurt, and after he's done, renewed. Like you'll wonder why you haven't heard such beauty up until this now, and you'll want more of that feeling. It's a backwards way to feel happier, but music can have that parallel effect.

Otis Redding was significant in that he was able to traverse racial boundaries, and relate to a wider audience. He awakened a generation and passionately shouted his way into the consciousness of the music world. One of the most dynamic singers of his time, Otis Redding's The Ultimate Otis Redding is a wonderful primer into what was a beautiful, and far too short, career.