And you thought Jimi Hendrix was the only iconic name in American music to make it big in Europe before breaking through in the states.
“Live in Europe”, was recorded while Otis Redding was headlining the Stax / Volt Revue European tour in 1967. The tour also featured legendary acts Sam and Dave, Eddie Floyd, and of course, queen Carla Thomas, along with the iconic Booker T. & the M.G.’s. – who must have been tired backing up all those performers.
While you won’t hear the other vocal acts share the stage with him in this release, what you will hear is the only live album released during Otis Redding’s lifetime. Not to scratch a dead record here, but “Live in Europe” is the live album that gives you a glimpse into the organic career legacy Stax / Volt and Otis were envisioning for him.
Moreso, the tour gave many in Otis’ musical family their first glimpse into the crossover impact their music was having. According to a recent interview given by Tim Sampson, communications director of the Soulsville Foundation…
“Oh. Shit. That sucks.”
Yeah. It do.
Many of the Stax / Volt artists outside of those who toured with Redding in 1966, were clueless to how far-reaching their music had become:
“Other than Otis Redding, who had traveled to the United Kingdom the previous year in 1966, none of the others had been to Europe and had no idea how popular their music was, so it came as a shock to them when they were all treated with great respect, both black and white, and surprised to find out how enthusiastic the white European fans were. They just didn’t have any idea.” – Tim Sampson.
It’s a great interview conducted by Jamie Milton of NME.com. check it out.
From what I’ve read and continue to read, the tour revitalized the merry band of musicians, molded them, and inspired them to keep cranking out classics.
Little did they know what was ahead later on that year.
Quick Note: the online video performances found of Otis Redding in Paris were recorded during his first performed at the Olympia Theatre 0n September 10, 1966. Audio from that 1966 performance are NOT on this album.
Damned shame, too. That would have been a gem to archive.
Here we go, one song at a time:
- Released: July 10, 1967
- Where Recorded: [presumed] Olympia Theatre, Paris; March 21, 1967, as part of the Stax/Volt tour.
- Record Labels: Stax / Atlantic / Rhino (current. By Time / Warner – manufactured and marketed)
- Produced by: Jim Stewart
- Album Peak Chart: #14 UK Album Chart. #32 on Billboard Top LPs. #8 on Billboard Hot R&B LPs.
- Notable Musicians (to me) Included: Donald “Duck” Dunn, Isaac “Shaft” Hayes, Steve Cropper
- Notable Reviews: AllMusic: 4.5/5 stars. Rolling Stone: NA. The Rolling Stone Album Guide: NA. The Village Voice: A-
- Top Single: “Shake”, #28 UK Singles chart, #16 US Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles, #48 US Billboard Hot 100.
- “Respect” : Written by Otis Redding
- “Can’t Turn You Loose”: Written by Otis Redding
- “I’ve Been Lovin’ You Too Long” : Written by Jerry Butler & Otis Redding
- “Tell It Like It Is” : Written by George Davis and Lee Diamond
- “My Girl” : Written by Smokey Robinson & Ronald White
- “Shake” : Written by Sam Cooke
- “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”: Written by Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
- “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)”: Written by Steve Cropper & Otis Redding
- “These Arms of Mine” : Written by Otis Redding
- “Day Tripper” : Written by Lennon / McCartney
- “Try a Little Tenderness” : Written by James Campbell, Reginald Connelly, and Harry M. Woods
Each Song (to me)
Yes! It’s a helluva start to the album. “Respect” is from “Otis Blue”. It’s the original song from which Atlantic family member Aretha Franklin later turned into the empowering woman’s anthem. Here, Otis shows why the song was worth of attention and praise.
“[I] Can’t Turn You Loose – Live Europe Version”
Otis just got into his strut. Ain’t no stoppin’ him now. Great 1-2 punch to start a live album.
Believe it or not, this is the first time “[I] Can’t Turn You Loose” appeared on an Otis Redding album. Before that, it was a B-side to his 1965 “Just One More Day” single. It will appear again later on in the posthumous releases, but somehow Stax never found space for it on a studio album.
“I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”
M’mmmm. Otis’ confessional ballad “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (to Stop Now),” was originally released as a single in 1965 before becoming a signature song on “Otis Blue.” Grab your partner, turn the lights way down low, and sway around the room graceful stirring up more magic. It’s what this song ‘do, and it ‘do it all the more live.
Otis goes 4-straight with “Otis Blue” songs with this Temptations classic.
I’m a broken record when I say “Otis Redding songs are better live.” This live version typifies it.
Both the live cut and the studio cut change up the lyrics. For example, Smokey Robins originally wrote:
“I’ve got so much honey the bees envy me
I’ve got a sweeter song than the birds in the trees
Well I guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way?
Well, leave it to Otis to get competitive with Mother Nature:
I’ve got so much loving, oh the bees envy me
I’ve got a sweeter song that I can sing, than little birds in the trees
Oh, I guess you will say
Oh, can make me feel this way?
And this measurement of self-worth:
“I don’t need no money, fortune, and fame.”
Otis spins it into:
“I don’t need no money. All I need is my fame. “
He does it in other spots…infusing, “one big man can claim,” and the like. Pure ego and passion.
When he did it in the studio, it sounds a little arrogant and over-the-top, a stark departure from the poetic, thoughtful ballad David Ruffin made historical. When Otis does “My Girl” live, it sounds emphatic. Incredible. It has you rooting for him and his love.
From what I’ve read, that sums up Otis Redding.
5-for-5 with the “Otis Blue” tracks. When you hear Otis Redding do “Shake” live, you’ll get why he went after Sam Cooke’s last hit: it’s a high-endorphin, high-dopamine groove that screams-in-climax, “OTIS!”
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
This version is probably what (presumably) got The Rolling Stones to put the horns back into their live performance of this gem. Otis steps on the gas, blows by the warning signs, and essentially says, “come get me.”
He knows what he wants. He knows what he needs. He’s going after it.
And if you’re keeping score, this makes 6 songs in a row from “Otis Blue.”
“Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)”
Hey! A song from “Dictionary of Soul.” This version definitely sounds like he’s come to terms with his sadness and he’s going to muddle on through. I love the somewhat call-and-answer Redding gets going with the horns. Sounds even more alive.
Awww, and he gets the crowd down quiet then builds them up by singing words I’ve never heard of. It’s funny as fuck.
“These Arms of Mine”
Now that y’all have been moving your hips to “Satisfaction” and “Sad Song,” it’s time to cool it down a notch with his, perhaps, most iconic ballad ever pend. It’s from his first album, “Pain in My Heart,”.
Take The Beatles classic and crank it up to 11. That’s Otis Redding’s version of “Day Tripper.” Another high-energy track originally cut on “Dictionary of Soul.”
“Try a Little Tenderness”
This “Dictionary of Soul” ballad is even more tender and affectionate when heard live. Grab some tissues, then grab a seatbelt. You’ll start gettin’ mushy and end with an endorphine rush.
And that saxophone. So well placed.
If you have to change your underwear after hearing it, don’t be ashamed.
Just an incredible closing song, not only on an album, but on a live performance.
I forgot how incredible “Live in Europe,” was. I got hooked on the Whisky A Go Go sessions and hadn’t gotten back to this album as much as I probably should. It shouldn’t have taken me going back and reviewing Otis Redding albums to make me listen to this again.
In “Live in Europe,” you hear the exhaust leaking out of the bottom of this rocket called “Otis Redding,” shortly before he launched into the stratosphere. The crowd is emphatic, Otis is non-stop adrenaline.
About two hours after you listen to “Live in Europe” and you finally start to come down from your emotional high, you’ll start to feel bittersweet about the performance. You’ll have wish there was more – and you’ll find it later on when you listen to posthumous release of “Otis Redding – Live in London & Paris” which contains more songs from this tour – but even after you listen to those tracks, the bittersweetness will remain. It’ll feel like closing the back cover on a good book you just finished reading, but like with all great books, you can always open them back up again and start the journey anew.
And you’ll want to hear these again. And again. And the feeling will remain anew. This album is an incredible gift he left behind. Enjoy it.
What do you think of “Live in Europe”?
- My nearly accurate Otis Redding Discography
- Album liner notes and oldies radio