Otis Redding: Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (Rhino)
Fifty years ago Otis Redding released what some have ranked as the greatest soul album. Although it falls short of such high praise, The Dictionary of Soul is solid work from one of the genre’s masters. The hint of a tear catches his voice on the sad numbers and his fervor when upbeat is unrelenting. His interpretive powers were remarkable: Redding reinvented The Beatles’ “Day Tripper” and transformed “Try a Little Tenderness” into gospel testifying.
Many of the arrangements came from the same template, but with variation. Redding even handled straight-out blues with “Hawg for You,” his voice mimicking a harmonica’s wail. Dictionary of Soul would be Redding’s final studio album released in his lifetime. The singer died a year later in a plane crash near Madison, Wis. The new reissue features one disc in stereo and the other in the more concentrated medium of mono. Included are unreleased takes and B-sides.