1001 Albums 0051-0052

Published May 02, 2013

My continued journey through the albums featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

0051: Otis Redding: Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965)

I love Sixties soul music. Most of the time I can't get enough of it. And I also love Otis Redding. Or at least I thought I did until I heard this album. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for it, or perhaps it's that I've heard so many of these Sixties recordings from the Stax and Atlantic labels - not only Redding's - so many times that their sound has become over-familiar.

Probably, though, the main problem was that I just don't enjoy listening to an album's worth of Otis Redding in one go. The vocal acrobatics become a little tiresome, quite frankly, much as I appreciate his talents. Some of the material also left me a bit indifferent. He does no less than three Sam Cooke songs on this album, but none rival the original versions and all of them sound a little pointless to me.

So, in conclusion, I guess the right way for me to listen to Otis Redding is as part of a Various Artists compilation or something. Fancy that. I guess you learn something every day.

Verdict: I really expected to love this, but to my surprise I didn't.


0052: The Beach Boys: The Beach Boys Today! (1965)
An album I've already heard.

No reservations here, or at least very few: I love The Beach Boys and this is one of their very best albums. What's not to like? 'Don't Hurt My Little Sister' sounds a little forced, perhaps. And the inclusion of the concluding spoken-word track 'Bull Session With "Big Daddy"' is inexplicable. But the rest is pure magic: fantastic songs, amazing arrangements (although the single version of 'Help Me Rhonda' is better than this first album attempt), gorgeous harmonies, uplifting joie de vivre on one track, devastating melancholy on the next - I don't ask for much more from an album.

ABBA fans: The opening track, 'Do You Wanna Dance?, is the one cited by Benny Andersson in the 1999 documentary The Winner Takes It All as an example of a record that sounds great, something that he wanted to emulate when he first started out.