This Friday it’s the record that I currently think is absolutely THE BEST RECORD IN THE WORLD — The Ultimate Live Otis Redding Show! It’s Volume 4 of the box set Otis! The Definitive Otis Redding.
In addition to hosting a radio show, the rest of my full-time job here at KEXP is spent making KEXP Documentaries. My team of unpaid geniuses and I create a mini-radio documentary each week. We do them in batches of 10. So far we have series on Bob Dylan, Punk Evolution, Masters of Turntablism, American Sabor (Latin Innovators in US Pop Music), Alternative Music in Education, and our current series on Music Revolutionaries, but my favorite series so far would have to be The Heart of Soul. And my favorite person we profiled is Otis Redding. Check him out!
Before we did the series, my favorite soul singer was Marvin Gaye. Both he and Otis died young, and tragically. But Marvin’s story is torturous, with lots of self-imposed problems including drugs and women. Otis lived a shorter life, but he lived with all his might. He kept his sense of humor. He never let fame take away his humbleness and his connection with the music.
Things I love about Otis:
1. The “Otis Dance” where you stomp your feet right and left and wag your head. (Neither he or Marvin could dance at all. They’re both pretty entertaining to watch in that respect).
2. The fact that he thought the words to “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” were “I Can’t Get No Satis-fashion”, and that he still tears up the song and makes it work. Check out this video. Love the green pants. Mick Jagger was in the house. I wonder what he thought?
3. He recorded so many weird 60’s videos where hippie dancers or gogo dancers shake it. The people in the videos are often separated weirdly, by color, and Otis sings to ALL of them.
4. Many of his videos have him lip-syncing and since he never sang a song the same way, it often has a terrible/wonderful “Godzilla Effect” where his lips don’t match the music.
5. His backing band was usually Booker T and The MGs – one of the first big integrated bands, they were from the south and couldn’t play in their own hometowns.
6. His sincerity and wisdom. He wrote Respect… and Try A Little Tenderness. This was a real man, who had integrity and sensitivity, and the strength to show it.
But the main thing I love about Otis Redding is his eyes when he plays live. That’s how I feel when I am on the air at KEXP. Full, explosive, magnetic and completely thrilled to be there. Like a six year old who’s having an excellent birthday.
This song, “Try A Little Tenderness,” has the most incredible accelerating rhythm. And this recording is the last one ever made of Otis. The guys that are his backing band the Bar-Kays went down with him on the plane too.
I highly recommend The Ultimate Otis Redding Show for anything that ails you. We miss you, Otis.
Join Michele Myers this Friday for Nite Life from 9pm-1am on KEXP.