Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (Rhino)
"Essential" has become an overused word, like many words in our language. In the case of Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul, essential is, for once, applicable. It's one of the great LPs of 1960s soul, featuring classics such as "Change Gonna Come" and "Respect" (which Aretha Franklin later topped with her cover) plus a version of "Satisfaction" that left the Stones in the dust.
Reissues of old music in new packages have become an overworked stopgap in an industry uncertain of its future. The new two-disc reissue of Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul is an exception. It's essential listening, not just for containing both the mono and stereo versions of the original album, but also for an array of bonus tracks that, for once, are terrific. Most of the unreleased material was recorded live with the gritty, powerful vocalist at the forefront. Redding was a performer always in the moment and in real time, even in the studio.