Album Review: Otis Redding – Lonely & Blue

Released in 1966, Lonely & Blue was perhaps Otis Redding‘s finest collection of songs centering on the heartfelt, pained end of the soul balladeering spectrum. With its trademark packaging design – as distinctive in its own way as the aesthetic of jazz giant Blue Note – the Volt Records release captured everything that made Redding

Album Review: Otis Redding – Live on the Sunset Strip

Are you ready for Star Time? You’d better be. Three live sets of Otis Redding are — or should be — coming your way. Live on the Sunset Strip presents the incendiary onstage performance of Redding — clearly at the top of his game — live at the Whisky A Go Go. A fair amount

Album Review: Otis Redding – The Best: See & Hear

Shout! Factory’s newest retrospective is a CD+DVD package of Otis Redding material called The Best: See & Hear. The “hear” postion of the package is rather short, even by the standards of the good old LP format. Twelve tracks over about 30 minutes is a bit brief, but arguably if your goal is to just

DVD Review: Otis Redding — Respect Live 1967

This brief DVD is an effort to collect all extant performance footage of Otis Redding in the months before his untimely death. On that level, it succeeds, more or less. But in doing so, it — by necessity — re-re-recycles material that’s been around for years. Half of the running time consists of Redding’s stellar

Randall Bramblett: Lucky That Way

The music business has a built-in tendency to categorize artists: they’re a rocker, a country act, a jazz cat, a rapper or something else. And in those relatively rare instances when an artist ventures even slightly outside of his or her appointed lane, they earn the crossover-artist tag. Yet there do exist a few extra-special

Graham Parker: Those ‘Soul Shoes’ Still Fit

Guitarist, singer and songwriter Graham Parker first came to the attention of American audiences during the punk and new wave era of the late 1970s and early ‘80s. As a result, he was sometimes mentioned in the same breath as acts like the Sex Pistols, but musically he had relatively little in common with the

Steve Cropper: The Go-Getter Gets Going (Part One)

Ask serious music fans to name a tasteful guitarist, and inevitably Steve Cropper’s name is going to come up. As a studio musician, Cropper’s work is part of the center of gravity of innumerable recordings that came out of Memphis’ Stax Records in the 1960s. With Booker T & the M.G.’s, Cropper was responsible for

10 Albums That Changed My Life: Emilio “Mimi” Castillo

For more than 50 years, Tower of Power has been bringing its soulful brand of funk to hit records and energetic live shows. In 2018 the nine-man band – plus guest/alumni singers and players and a full string section – returned to where it all began: Oakland, California. There they played a two-night concert celebration,

Things Get Better: Soul Man Eddie Floyd (Part 3 of 3)

Continued from Part Two … That success extended well beyond Eddie Floyd’s records. In fact – as he recounts in detail in his new memoir, Knock! Knock! Knock! On Wood: My Life in Soul – Floyd got his start at Stax as a songwriter, not a performer. His first success as a Stax house writer

Things Get Better: Soul Man Eddie Floyd (Part 2 of 3)

Continued from Part One … During that “Knock on Wood” writing session, there was a torrential rainstorm going on outside. “In Alabama where I live,” explains Floyd, “the rainstorms can be fierce.” Even though “Knock on Wood” was shaping up to be a love song, he decided put that idea into it: “It’s like thunder,