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Music Review: Otis Redding – Live On The Sunset Strip

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If ever anyone got the short of the stick in life and the music business it was Otis Redding. He had built a solid career for himself as a gritty and brilliant soul and rhythm and blues artist when he went into the studio on December 7, 1967 and cut one the classic songs in American music history. Three days later he would be dead in a plane crash. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” would top the American singles chart for a month in early 1967 and make him a superstar after his death. He would be inducted  into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1989, receive a Lifetime Grammy Award in 1999, and be honored on a United States postage stamp during 1993.

While he consistently placed songs on the rhythm and blues charts as well as the pop charts, it was as a live performer that he achieved his early fame. His performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival was legendary and helped introduce him to a white audience.

The Concord Music Group has added to his live music legacy with the release of the two disc CD Live On The Sunset Strip.

During the spring of 1966 he arrived in Los Angeles to perform at the Hollywood Bowl with such acts as Donovan, Sonny & Cher, and The Mamas & The Papas. He stayed in the city after the concert to play four nights at the Whiskey A Go Go, April 7-10. While some of the material has been issued in both CD and LP form down through the years, the actual complete shows have remained in the archives.

Three complete sets, in order, with introductions and banter make their debuts on this CD set. The 24 year old Redding is backed by his 12 piece band and is at the height of his vocal and performing power.

Show 2, Set 3 is the tightest and probably the most conservative of the three sets presented. Six minute plus renditions of “I Can’t Turn You Loose” and “Satisfaction” form the foundation of the show. His performance of “Respect” is emotional and passionate.

Show 3, Set 1 finds him reaching an emotional peak with a stirring version of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” “Chained and Bound” at seven and a half minutes proves that he can mesmerize an audience with extended versions of his material. He again performs “Satisfaction” and “I Can’t Turn You Loose” but they are subtle differences from the first show.

It is Show 3, Set 2 which is the crown jewel of the release. It is a 12 song extravaganza with a ten minute performance of “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” which will leave you drained. Also included are “Mr. Pitiful” and a cover of The Beatles “A Hard Days Night.”

His band is tight and provides a solid foundation for his vocals. The sound quality is excellent considering it was recorded over forty years ago.

Live On The Sunset Strip captures a young and vital Otis Redding on the verge of stardom. It presents as accurate a picture of his live show as we are liable to get. For any fan of the sixties or rhythm and blues, this release is essential.

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