With album art that looks like it came straight from the 1960s — and a cover bearing designer ringwear that looks like it has been a treasured part of a record collection at least that long — “Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding” puts the spotlight on Redding’s ballads.
The new compilation album will be released as a CD and as a blue vinyl LP on March 5, on Stax Records via Concord Music Group.
“Given how nobody delivered a gut-wrenching sad song like Otis, I always felt he should have made an album you could put on late at night and settle into with a glass of something strong,” said compilation producer David Gorman. “The mood and the subject of every song is the same — Otis, heartbroken, and begging for love. I tried to find the saddest, most potently heartbreaking songs he ever sang, with no regard for chart position or notoriety. There are a few hits on the album, but they’re there because they fit the mood, not because we wanted to include the hits.”
For instance, an alternate version of “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember” features lyrics that are darker and tell a more personal story than the better-known hit version. Little-known tracks like “Gone Again” and “A Waste of Time” are given the same weight as “I’ve Been Loving You too Long.” The motif of love is even subtly addressed in the sequencing, the album closing with “Send Me Some Lovin’” and “My Lover’s Prayer.”
The concept of “Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding” plays out in the packaging as well, which was intentionally designed by Gorman to look as if Redding actually put this album out at the height of his career. The typography, color palette and layout are all meant to adhere to the Stax/Volt LP designs of the time. This extends to the liner notes, which are written in the present tense and credited to a fictitious DJ so that they read as if they were written while Redding was alive at his peak. Vinyl fans can also appreciate the faux ringwear worked in to the cover design.
“The goal,” explains Gorman, “was to create the best album Otis never made and ‘reissue’ it in 2013 rather than do another hits compilation. We hope this album will re-frame him as something more than an oldies radio staple and become his ‘Night Beat’ (a classic 1963 Sam Cooke LP) — the album that exists as a starting point for people wondering why so many consider Otis Redding the greatest soul singer of all time.”
The track listing for “Lonely and Blue” is:
1. I Love You More Than Words Can Say
2. Gone Again
3. Free Me
4. Open the Door [Skeleton Key Version]
5. A Waste of Time
6. These Arms of Mine
7. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)
8. Everybody Makes a Mistake
9. Little Ol’ Me
10. I’ve Got Dreams to Remember [Rougher Dreams]
11. Send Me Some Lovin’
12. My Lover’s Prayer