Back in the day, if ARETHA FRANKLIN was the Queen Of Soul then OTIS REDDING was its undoubted King. In a spectacular but sadly short career (he was just 26 when a plane crash in Wisconsin claimed his life) he defined the template for classic soul music and his album ‘Otis Blue’ is an acknowledged genre masterpiece.

KING OTIS, though, was also a prolific writer of quality soul songs and to prove the point ACE RECORDS have just released a mighty fine 25 tracker that features REDDING-written numbers as recorded by many of soul’s biggest names.

Amongst the excellent cuts there’s JUDY CLAY’S take on ‘Mr Pitiful’ – which she redoes as ‘Sister Pitiful’, JAMES CARR’S cover of ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ and LOU RAWLS’ smoothed out version of ‘Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa’. As a bonus there’s also a previously unissued track from REDDING himself. It’s Take 2 of ‘Loving You By The Pound’. The song was recorded by OTIS in 1967 and one take of the song, written for BETTYE SWAN, we’re told, was released back in 1991, Here, hear different nuances… and the MGs are in tremendous form.

This new album – ‘HARD TO HANDLE – BLACK AMERICA SINGS OTIS REDDING’ – also features ARETHA’S version of ‘Respect’ – a monumental recording by any standards and one that even REDDING admitted gave ownership of the song to the Queen of Soul… appropriate then that here we have King and Queen reunited.