Otis Redding - Dock of the Bay Sessions (Vinyl)

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Otis Redding quickly became one of the biggest stars in R&B after scoring a hit in 1962 with "These Arms of Mine," but as the decade wore on, his creative ambitions began to shift. Redding had absorbed the influences of Bob Dylan and the Beatles in his songwriting, and after playing the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, where he handily won over what he called "the love crowd," he had big plans for his next album. Sadly, while Redding had put the finishing touches on what would be his breakthrough song, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," he didn't live to see its success or complete the accompanying album, losing his life in a plane crash in December 1967. An album titled The Dock of the Bay appeared in February 1968 as the single was topping the charts, but it was a hodge-podge of material recorded throughout Redding's career and didn't reflect his vision of music that combined intelligent and impressionistic songwriting mixed with the taut passion of the Stax Records' brand of Southern soul. The Dock of the Bay Sessions is an attempt to approximate what Redding had in mind from material he recorded in the last months of his life. None of this music is previously unreleased, and several of the tracks are very well-known to fans (particularly "Hard to Handle," "Love Man," and "I've Got Dreams to Remember"). But most didn't surface until after Redding's death, and this collection gives them a coherent context they previously lacked. Given the familiarity of many of the tracks, and the fact that most don't step away from Redding's usual approach the way "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" did, this doesn't play like the Great Lost Otis Redding Album that one might hope for. However, as a summary of the great work Redding was doing up to the very end of his life, this is a splendid listen. As a vocalist, Redding was only growing stronger at this point, adding greater nuances to the forceful punch of his vocals, and the subtle dynamics of "Think About It" and "Champagne and Wine," while not as much of a step forward as the title cut, suggest a greater sonic maturity than most of Redding's work. And the work of the Stax Studio crew was and remains a joy to hear, economic but full-bodied and powerfully soulful. The Dock of the Bay Sessions is hardly essential for loyal Otis Redding fans, but as a compact summation of his final recordings, it's a fine collection that flows with the coherence of a "real" LP, and if you're looking for an album with "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," this is a good way to go.


Released in 2018, "Dock Of The Bay Sessions" is a 12 track album that asks the question - "What if"? These songs have all been out before but this album imagines what the album Otis Redding would have released had he not died on 10th December 1967.The sleeve notes by Bob Stanley are written as if Otis was alive and this record was issued in 1968.

Anyway, this is all terrific stuff - most of it is in mono and it sounds great. All the songs were written or co-written by Otis and unlike many of his original albums, we get proper credits.

So besides Otis – vocals & whistling, we have Steve Cropper – guitar (& bass on “Pounds & Hundreds”, Booker T Jones & Isaac Hayes – piano & organ, Donald “Duck” Dunn & Al Jackson Jr – drums, Wayne Jackson & Ben Cauley – trumpet & Andrew Love, Joe Arnold, Tommie Lee Williams – saxes.

Besides the peerless “Dock Of The Bay”, I remember “Hard To Handle was a single - there have been numerous covers – The Grateful Dead used to do it. But this is all terrific stuff – I particularly like “Direct Me” and “Think About It” on what would have been Side one which are mostly up tempo songs.

What would be - at probably is on the vinyl version of this - side two has the big soul ballads – “I.ve Got Dreams To Remember” is simply stunning. But so is “Champagne & Wine” – which follows. “Gone Again” is another cracking song. The album finishes with “Amen” which Bob Stanley tells me was a hit for The Impressions. It was – in 1964. Otis had a hit with his version in 1968, but of course he was gone by then.

As to whether this would have been the album Otis would have released is pure speculation, of course. But it is an interesting idea and probably one of the best 31 minutes you are likely to hear. And with apologies to the Rev Green - Otis remains my favourite soul singer.

By: CharlieF1954

A1 (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
Written-By – Otis Redding, Steve Cropper
A2 Think About It
Written-By – Don Covay, Otis Redding
A3 Hard To Handle
Written-By – Allen Jones*, Alvertis Isbell, Otis Redding
A4 The Happy Song (Dum-Dum)
Written-By – Otis Redding, Steve Cropper
A5 Love Man
Written-By – Otis Redding
A6 Direct Me
Written-By – Otis Redding, Steve Cropper
B1 I've Got Dreams To Remember
Written-By – Joe Rock, Otis Redding, Zelma Redding
B2 Champagne And Wine
Written-By – Allen Walden, Otis Redding, Roy Johnson
B3 Pounds And Hundreds (Lbs + 100s)
Bass – Steve Cropper
Written-By – Otis Redding, Steve Cropper
B4 I'm A Changed Man
Written-By – Otis Redding, Steve Cropper
B5 Gone Again
Written-By – Joe Rock, Otis Redding
B6 Amen
Arranged By – Otis Redding
Written-By – Traditional

Bass – Donald "Duck" Dunn
Drums – Al Jackson Jr.
Guitar – Steve Cropper
Piano, Organ – Booker T. Jones, Isaac Hayes
Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Andrew Love, Joe Arnold, Tommy Lee Williams*
Trumpet – Ben Cauley, Wayne Jackson
Vocals, Whistling – Otis Redding
A2 and B2 stereo; all others mono.