Sorting out Otis Redding’s Live Albums can drive you mad. Here’s why:
There are only 3 sources for his live performances:
- Live at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles, CA. All 7 sets. April 8-10, 1966
- Stax / Volt Revue tour performance. Olympia Theatre. Paris, France. Typically March 21, 1967
- His set at the Monterey International Pop Festival. June 17, 1967
It should be noted there is a fourth source.
There is a fourth, if you include the video bootlegs of his performance on his first trip to Paris in 1966, but for that, go YouTubing or Vimeoing or Dailymotion.com for “Otis Redding Paris 1966.” I’d link to them but they get pulled, re-uploaded, pulled-again…Once you find them, watch them because you’ll never know if they’ll get posted, again.
You’ll also see him on some British pop shows during his 1966 and 1967 tour.
Watching Eric Burdon trying to keep up with him sends chills down my spine because it validates that no one could keep up with Otis Redding.
Otherwise, from these three sources you’ll find 9 live albums and 1 video (more videos if you look at YouTube / Vimeo / Dailymotion etc…)
Yeah. It sucks to keep straight.
Here are the Otis Redding Live Albums, listed, along with where they are recorded:
- “Live in Europe”: Released July 10, 1967. Recorded March 21, 1967 at the Olympia Theatre in Paris, France during Stax / Volt Revue tour. Label: Volt.
- “In Person at the Whisky a Go Go”: Released May 1, 1968 (per OtisRedding.com). Recorded at the Whisky a Go Go, Los Angeles, CA. April 8-10, 1966. Label: Alco.
- “Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival”: Released August 26, 1970. Recorded June 16-18, 1967 in Monterrey, CA. Label: Reprise Records.
- “Recorded Live: Previously Unreleased Performances”: Released 1982. Recorded at the Whisky a Go Go from April 8-10, 1966. Eventually pulled because of rights issues between Atlantic & Stax. Often considered among the “bootlegs.” Re-released as “Good to Me.” See next listing.
- “Good to Me: Live at the Whisky a Go Go, Vol. 2”: Released 1993, part of re-packaged / re-release of “Previous Unreleased Performances” when Stax regained the rights to material. Recorded at the Whisky a Go Go from April 8-10, 1966. Label: Stax.
- “In Concert”: Released in 1999. Recordings from Whisky a Go Go April 1966 sessions and Stax / Volt Revue at Olympia Theatre, Paris, France, March 21, 1967. Label: Stax
- “Respect: Live 1967”: Album and DVD Video Released January 20, 2009. Recorded at Stax / Volt Revue in 1967 and the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Label: Shout! Factory.
- “Live on the Sunset Strip”: Released in 2010. Recorded at the Live at the Whisky a Go Go sessions in April 1966. Label: Stax
- “Live At The Whisky A Go Go”: Released October 21, 2016. Entire Whisky a Go Go session recordings in April 8-10, 1966, all 7 sets. Included 2nd takes on some songs. Labels: Concord Music Groups and Stax /Volt. Note: There’s a 2 disc set and a “Complete Recordings”
Other notes about Otis Redding Live Albums:
The only live album released while Otis Redding was alive was “Live in Europe.”
It’s a great set. It’s nipped and tucked tight and clean to fit on a record. It’s also the album you can be certain was part of his organic album catalog release.
Good luck finding the Monterey Pop Festival release.
This isn’t typically readily available. It looks like more record company rights conflicts prevent this treasure from getting out more.
Spotify listeners will be disappointed that they won’t be able to find it there. You can find it on Amazon, most always on vinyl. It’s mixed in with the Jimi Hendrix performance, making the album that much all-the-more incredible and historic.
Also, speaking of Vimeoing and Dailymotion.com, you can typically find video Otis Redding’s entire setlist from the Monterey Pop Festival on there. Watch it many, many times. Watch it until you get Otis’ strut down cold.
We’ll see how long it stays up.
Just make sure you know which “Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival” album you’re buying.
Otherwise you’ll end up with The Mamas and the Papas album. Not that that’s a band thing, but it won’t be Otis’.
Speaking of making sure, make sure you know which, “Live At The Whisky A Go Go” album you’re getting.
With so many “Whisky A Go Go” albums to choose from:
- “Live in Person…”
- “…Vol. 2”
- “Live At The Whisky A Go Go” 2-disc set
- “Live At The Whisky A Go Go” complete recordings
Not to mention “Live on the Sunset Strip” which also had most all the sets on there. It can be confusing. Make sure you get the one you want.
What’s Otis Redding’s Best Live Album?
To me, it’s Otis Redding “Live At The Whisky A Go Go: The Complete Recordings”
I feel like I’m cheating when I say that because it was released in Fall 2016, nearly 50 years after he died. That said, what is in those sessions is everything you could have ever dreamed of when hearing the perfect Otis Redding concert / live performance, sans video and “Dock of the Bay”. The latter, you should know by now, you’ll never get on this earth unless The Doctor intervenes.
In “Live At The Whisky A Go Go: The Complete Recordings,” we get all 7 sets he performed over the three days he was there. It’s relatively unfettered so you can hear their chatter between songs, his hype man Al “Brisco” Clark and everything.
The complete Whisky a Go Go sessions are the cleanest, most authentic recordings we have, warts and all. You really get to hear glimpses of Otis’ personality coming through not only in the songs, but during his interactions with the crowd and the band between songs and, sometimes, between takes. These little incredible details were often scraped out of the album versions, probably because of vinyl album’s time restraints.
And, because no one was concerned on fitting this on the side of the album, the length on some of these songs are incredible. There’s a 10-minute cover of “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” from the April 10 Set 2 session, a 9:15 cut of “Satisfaction” from the April 9 Set 2 session that don’t drag. They groove. There are a bunch of songs 6 minutes and longer that just flow, and time will fly. In total, 4 hours and 47 minutes of live Otis awesomeness.
Runners up would be “Live in Europe” and “Monterey Pop Festival.
There’s just something natural about hearing “Live in Europe” that makes me jones to hear it. As previously said it, it’s the “planned” release. It’s the one they were prepared to release and promote.
Then there’s the Monterey Pop Festival set in 1967.
Seriously, if you haven’t yet seen it, go watch it. Dailymotion.com usually has the full set. To me, it’s not his best live set. It’s rushed probably because of the festival time management constraints, but it’s the set that broke down barriers for him. It’s the reason most of us get to hear him today. And, seriously, outside of the bootlegs of his appearances on British pop shows, there ain’t but a couple hours of Otis Redding footage out there. Scoop it up, slurp it up whenever you can.
What Otis Redding Album sounds best on Vinyl?
Get back to me on that. We just got a record player set up and my mama just went home after her visit out here.