CD Review: Otis Redding – Lonely & Blue (Stax/Volt, 2013)
Producer David Gorman has worked a bit of sleight-of-hand in creating this what-might-have-been Stax/Volt release. By cherry-picking from Otis Redding’s catalog, Gorman’s built the most consistent studio album that Redding never released. Rather than balancing heartbreak with hip-shaking soul, Gorman’s playlist gives in only to pleading shades of blue: forlorn, yearning and desolate. Think of this as the soul music equivalent of Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours, Where Are You? and No One Cares, with Redding carrying a torch that just won’t burn out. Like Sinatra, Redding is imprisoned by confusion, sorrow and loneliness, fighting back from emotional destruction, and undercut by somber instrumental backings that only pick up their head to lash out with their horns. Redding’s original albums include many landmarks, but none drink so thoroughly from the well of late-night sorrow as this collection of hit singles, album tracks and a killer alternate version of “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember.” Packaged in a mini-LP sleeve with ring-worn retro cover art and fictitious DJ liner notes, the package delivers twelve straight shots of Redding’s deepest soul.