As a general rule, I love the “warts and all” approach to live records; take a great performance, in its entirety, and present it to the listening public without dubbing out any wonky notes or misses. I have never been a big fan of cut and paste live records, where songs are culled from concerts across a tour. Live records like that just don’t feel the same as a recording that is a complete glimpse into one night of a band’s tour.
After hearing Live On The Sunset Strip, the recently released live collection from Otis Redding & His Orchestra, though, I might be changing my tune.
This two disc collection chronicles three sets from a four night run at West Hollywood’s Whiskey A Go Go in April of 1966. History shows that this was a monster run for Redding; he performed with a 10 piece band, three backup singers, and an emcee. The sets are scorching, and he earned rave reviews. Redding was, undeniably, at the top of the Southern soul movement.
Redding performs his favorites, including passionate renditions of “These Arms of Mine,” and “Respect,” which takes on a completely different air than the version made so famous by Aretha Franklin. Also readily apparent was Redding’s awareness of the hottest music of the era, as he offers up covers of James Brown’s “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” and ”Satisfaction,” by The Rolling Stones.
Unfortunately, “Satisfaction” is a prime example of where the producers of this record went awry. The track is presented no less than five times on the two discs. Incredibly, other tracks appear more than once, including “Chained and Bound” and “I Can’t Turn You Loose” at thrice each, leading this listener to think, “Wasn’t I just here?”
Perhaps more discretion when choosing the tracks would have made this collection more concise and wouldn’t have me wanting to rip it to my iPod to clean up the excess. Sometimes too much of a good thing is just that – too much.
Live On The Sunset Strip is out now on Stax Records.