OTIS REDDING: ‘Live In London & Paris’ (Label: Stax)

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OTIS REDDING: 'Live In London & Paris'

Otis Redding would probably figure at the top of most people’s lists of the greatest ever soul men. Blessed with a raw, raspy voice and deeply soulful delivery, Redding could take any song and make it indisputably his own. According to those who witnessed him perform in person, he also possessed immense onstage charisma – anyone who doubts this should watch the recent DVD ‘Dreams To Remember: The Legacy Of Otis Redding’ – and it’s his magnetic stage presence that elevates this new live CD above routine in-concert albums. This 19-track collection finds the Georgia-born singer captured in concert in Europe during 1967, the fateful year that would sadly witness his untimely death in an airplane crash. The first eight tracks on this CD were recorded in London (at the Finsbury Park Astoria) during the first Stax/Volt tour of the UK in March ’67 – Redding (backed by Booker T & The MGs, with the Mar-Keys supplying those famous Stax horns) is in incendiary form, screaming and pleading his way through material like ‘Respect,’ ‘Shake,’ ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ and ‘Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song).’ The set’s piece de resistance is an epic, seven-minute version of the mournful deep soul ballad, ‘Try A Little Tenderness,’ which achieves a bruising, cathartic intensity at its heart-pumping climax. The second half of the CD features a slightly longer but almost identical set recorded at the Paris Olympia a few days after the London performance. Again, Redding and his band are in explosive form, whipping up a frenzy of raw soul power in the French capital. All these tracks have been released in various formats before – notably on the Ace compilation, ‘1000 Volts,’ and the long-deleted ‘Stax/Volt In Europe Vol 3’ – but this is the first time that the songs appear on record in their original on-stage running order. The liner notes include reminiscences from guitarist, Steve Cropper, making this a must-buy piece of musical history for soul fans.
(CW) 4/5