Certain Songs #1417: Otis Redding – “Demonstration”

Album: Tell The Truth
Year: 1970

Sure, on the fourth posthumous album that was assembled from the songs that Otis Redding recorded in the year prior to his death, the seams were probably showing a bit: Tell The Truth is a step down from Love Man or The Immortal Redding, but at the same time, when there were still songs as great as “Demonstration” left in the can, why wouldn’t you release them?

Maybe in the alternate timeline where Otis Redding doesn’t die, some of the songs on Tell The Truth show up as bonus cuts for a future box set excavation of the amazing album he would have released in 1968, but not “Demonstration.”

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Certain Songs #1416: Otis Redding – “Direct Me”

Album: Love Man
Year: 1969

Yet another song recorded just prior to his death, “Direct Me” is a funky rocker, fueled by a corkscrew guitar part from Steve Cropper and anchored by an insistent tambourine.

And while it seems totally unfinished — the sound is a bit distant, and there aren’t any horns anywhere — it’s still a great enough song to transcend its relative sparseness, as it’s part of that burst of songwriting & recording that Otis did just prior to his death.

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Certain Songs #1415: Otis Redding – “I’m a Changed Man”

Album: Love Man
Year: 1969

As I’ve mentioned before, my first Otis Redding album was Live in Europe, which I got during the mid-1980s for the reasons you buy live albums as an intro to an artist you only know a little bit about.

And then after that in early 1993, I got the 3-CD Otis Redding Story, figuring that it was probably all I would ever need. Which maybe for a while it was, until it wasn’t. At some point in the mid-1990s, I realized that I needed to hear every single note of music that Otis had ever released.

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Certain Songs #1414: Otis Redding – “Hard to Handle”

Album: The Immortal Otis Redding
Year: 1968

Like “I Can’t Turn You Loose“, I first heard the song “Hard to Handle” via a cover version by a band with which I had a complicated relationship.

I’m talking, of course, about The Black Crowes, whose first album I really didn’t like at all, as signified by my “meh” reaction to their mannered cover of “Hard To Handle,” (somewhere, there’s a Sedan Delivery practice tape where I drunkenly go off on how much I thought they sucked) one of the centerpieces of the second posthumous record that Steve Cropper compiled from Otis Redding’s vault, The Immortal Otis Redding.

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Certain Songs #1413: Otis Redding – “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay”

Album: The Dock of the Bay
Year: 1968

I guess it’s possible that Otis Redding would have squandered it. That all of the potential, drive and momentum he had built up over the short time he was a recording artist would somehow gone to waste. But I doubt it. Which is what makes his death — via plane crash like Buddy Holly & Ronnie Van Zant — such an incredible loss.

Luckily(?), he’d had a huge burst of creativity just prior to his death: what turned out to be nearly four albums — four good-to-great albums — worth of brand-new recordings for a grieving Steve Cropper to sort through, starting with the titanic and still-inescapable “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay,” which was recorded just days before and released less than a month after he died.

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