I am perhaps softening in my old age, because this is a slicker soul record than the kind I like, though only a little bit slicker. Basically I used to not really tolerate soul with strings but apparently I can now. So that’s a weird way to start this.
As the kids say, I’m an Otis stan. (Oh science, I almost wrote “stan” like an old person, with quotes.) So I’m pretty much going to like everything he did.
If the previous album lacked for name material, Otis certainly fixed that problem on this record: he covers some really big tracks including two big Sam Cooke hits (and another Cooke song), “My Girl” and “Satisfaction”. And to it, he adds his growing ability as a songwriter, particularly with the original (and inferior) version of …
This is particularly bluesy Aretha record, at least based on my very slight knowledge of her catalogue. Though it produced two hits, it infamously did relatively poorly as an album and, listening to it, it’s fairly easy to see why.
Can I tell you how great it is to listen to a Stax record right after a Motown record? It’s pretty damn great. And I must admit that there is a nonzero chance that listening to The Temptations prior to listening to Otis made me like this record even more than I would have normally.
There’s this idea that James Carr’s LP debut (I think it’s his debut) is one of the great underrated soul records of the 1960s, or of any era. I guess that depends upon what you value in your soul.
I didn’t mind Sam & Dave’s debut. It was gritty enough for me and I appreciated the performances and arrangements, even if the songs were not the best. (Soul, at least to me, is always more about the performances than it is about the songs.)