Happy 50th: Otis Redding, The Soul Album
50 years ago today, Otis Redding released The Soul Album. Not a soul album, mind you, but The Soul Album. Not that its title was necessarily intended to suggest that it’s the soul album to end all soul albums – especially not when one considers that he also recorded The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, and Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul – but when looking back at a list of the many classic R&B albums released during the course of the 1960s, The Soul Album is certainly right up there with the best of the best.
The fourth studio album of Redding’s career, The Soul Album found the singer tackling songs penned by some of the greatest R&B composers of the day, including Jerry Butler (“Cigarettes and Coffee”), Sam Cooke (“Chain Gang”), Eddie Floyd (“Everybody Makes a Mistake,” “634-5789”), and Smokey Robinson (“It’s Growing”). Redding also tackled James Cox’s classic “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and Slim Harpo’s “Scratch My Back,” but don’t get the idea that the album was all covers: Redding also contributed a few tracks of his own composition, including “Just One More Day,” “Good to Me,” and “Any Ole Way.”
As strong as its contents may have been, The Soul Album only spawned one hit single: “Just One More Day,” which hit #15 on the R&B charts. Unfortunately, it stalled at #85 on the Hot 100, which may be why it hasn’t become quite as iconic as some of Redding’s other studio albums. Like most everything else he recorded in the ‘60s, though, it’s a stone cold classic and one that’s always worth a spin.