For decades it was presumed by fans that the posthumous Otis Redding (acoustic guitar/vocals) studio platters The Dock of the Bay (1968), The Immortal Otis Redding (1968), Love Man (1969), and Tell the Truth (1970) had uncovered all the hidden and unreleased treasures from Redding's heartbreakingly brief yet appreciatively prolific career. ...
For decades it was presumed by fans that the posthumous Otis Redding (acoustic guitar/vocals) studio platters The Dock of the Bay (1968), The Immortal Otis Redding (1968), Love Man (1969), and Tell the Truth (1970) had uncovered all the hidden and unreleased treasures from Redding's heartbreakingly brief yet appreciatively prolific career. Thankfully, archivist Roger Armstrong -- who is perhaps best known for his outstanding contributions to the U.K.-based Ace Records reissue imprint -- discovered nearly two dozen additional remnants and presents them on this single-disc anthology. As Stax Records authority Rob Bowman points out in his insightful liner notes essay, the label did not keep precise documentation concerning recording session dates and personnel. So, some detective (and possible guess) work was needed when chronologically placing a few of the lesser-known titles. That certainly doesn't detract from the experience of uncovering formerly shelved selections such as the greasy and unmistakable Memphis groove behind "Trick or Treat," or the high-octane horn punctuations on the inaugural take of "Loving by the Pound" that are clearly in the vein of what would turn up as "Respect." To demonstrate the evolutionary processes and the importance of his collaborative relationship with Steve Cropper (guitar) -- a second completely revamped approach rechristened "Pounds and Hundreds (LBs + 100s)" -- is offered midway through the compendium. Another treasure is the oft-rumored rendition of the achingly poignant "I've Got Dreams to Remember" featuring unique lyrics by Redding's wife Zelma Redding. Little Richard's influence is evident on the impassioned overhaul of "Send Me Some Lovin'," which Redding re-forms with an undeniably singular and inspired interpretation. The alternate versions of "Respect," "Open the Door," "Come to Me," "Try a Little Tenderness," and the first two attempts of Redding's swan song, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," are arguably the most revealing moments on the entire package. Perhaps because the originals are so deeply ingrained in the psyche of Redding devotees, hearing the developmental stages or hearing the songs presented in a foreign context is nothing short of soul music manna. The one item that had been available prior to Remember Me (1992) is the concluding "Stay in School" message that was part of a larger campaign producing the promo-only Stay in School, Don't Be a Dropout long-player. It's a fun and lighthearted way to wrap up one of the best collections for R&B aficionados or the just plain curious consumer alike. ~ Lindsay Planer, Rovi