Rhino is revisiting the final recordings of Otis Redding on a new set due on May 18. Dock of the Bay Sessions is the label’s reconstruction of an album that never was, built around the song that became America’s first posthumous chart-topper and Redding’s only No. 1 hit, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” That song, produced and co-written by Steve Cropper, reached the pop zenith 50 years ago this Friday, March 16, 1968.
Following his blazing performance in June 1967 at the Monterey Pop Festival, all eyes were on Otis Redding to see what he would do next. As he blended soul, blues, rock, and pop into a heady musical brew, expectations were high for the studio album Redding began to cut that fall in Memphis. Upon his tragic death in a plane crash on December 10, 1967, however, the album as Redding envisioned it was scrapped. Instead, on February 23, 1968, Atlantic and Volt Records released The Dock of the Bay, anchored by the soon-to-be-immortal title track but surrounded by recordings of various vintages.
Although it will never be definitively known what Redding had planned for his new LP, Dock of the Bay Sessions collects the recordings Redding made during this final period of his life to assemble a strong might-have-been release. It was compiled with input from Roger Armstrong of Ace Records and Redding biographer Jonathan Gould and has the Redding family’s full endorsement. While the individual tracks comprising this set have been previously released on posthumous albums and various compilations, this marks the first time they have been brought together cohesively. In the new liner notes, St. Etienne’s Bob Stanley writes: “This album is the first indication of a new Otis Redding, one that has slayed audiences in Europe, one which won him a whole new crowd at the Monterey International Pop Festival.”
The many sides of Otis are on display on Sessions, from gospel (“Amen”) to funk (“Hard to Handle”) and soulful balladry (“I’ve Got Dreams to Remember”). Six tracks were first issued on LP on The Immortal Otis Redding, his second posthumous LP originally released in June 1968: the aforementioned trio, plus the single “The Happy Song,” “Think About It,” and “Champagne and Wine.” The June 1969 release of Love Man premiered that title track as well as “Direct Me” and I’m a Changed Man.” Still more tracks didn’t see their first release until decades later.
This snapshot of Otis Redding’s final studio sessions is due from Rhino on May 18 on CD, vinyl, digital download and streaming. You’ll find pre-order links and the track listing below!
Otis Redding, Dock of the Bay Sessions (Rhino, 2018)
- “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”
- “Think About It”*
- “Hard To Handle”
- “The Happy Song (Dum-Dum)”
- “Love Man”
- “Direct Me”
- “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember”
- “Champagne And Wine”*
- “Pounds And Hundreds (LBS + 100S)”
- “I’m A Changed Man”
- “Gone Again”
(*) denotes stereo track. All other tracks in mono.
Track 1 from The Dock of the Bay, Volt S 419, 1968
Tracks 2-4, 7-8 & 12 from The Immortal Otis Redding, Atco SD 33-252, 1968
Tracks 5-6 & 10 from Love Man, Atco SD 33-289, 1969
Tracks 9 & 11 from Remember Me, Stax SCD 85762-2, 1992