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Otis Redding- Pain In My Heart (1964)

Updated: May 9

Otis Redding - Pain In My Heart


Released March 1964

Recorded - 1963-1964

Every one of Otis Redding's albums has received at least four out of five stars from the Rolling Stone Album Guide, which mean that according to the reviews, he is always at least "excellent" and most often "essential." That is because singer Otis Redding had a golden voice that oozed emotion. The guy could sing the phone book, and it would be awesome (Don't know what a phone book is?-Google It.) With the death of Sam Cooke in 1964 came the emergence of Otis Redding. The singer offered an alternative southern approach to soul music that added some contrast to Motown's hit factory. While Motown recordings often relied on a heavy layering that included strings and auxiliary percussion, Otis Redding offered a more southern/gospel approach that more heavily featured horns than strings. Motown artists were backed by the Funk Brothers, an incredibly slick house rhythm section. Still, Redding's records were connected to Stax studios, who employed their exceptional rhythm section, Booker T and the M.G's. The M.G.'s offered a more organic and raw backing than the polished Funk Brothers.

Early Life

Otis Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia, on September 9, 1941, and grew up in Macon. Like many southern soul artists, he began singing early in the church. Influenced by Little Richard and Sam Cooke, Otis Redding began singing semi-professionally on the radio as a young teen. The young singer was forced to leave school at age 15 when his father contracted tuberculosis. During this time, he worked as a well digger and gas station attendant while continuing to sing and play piano at local establishments. In 1958, Redding performed in a local talent contest and caught the attention of a known guitarist, Johnny Jenkins. The two teamed up and began earning money by entering regional music competitions. After touring the chitlin' circuit with bands like Pat T. Cake and the Mighty Panthers and the Upsetters (Little Richard's old band), Redding cut a few recordings in Los Angeles. He was invited to Stax studios in 1962 to record "These Arms Of Mine" and "Hey Hey Baby." Released on Stax's sister Volt label, "These Arms of Mine" sold tremendously (800,000 copies).

About The Album and Later Career

In 1963, Redding made a celebrated appearance at the Apollo Theater. In 1964, he released his debut album, Pain in My Heart, which showcased "These Arms of Mine" and previously recorded singles from 1962-1963. So the album was basically a compilation of singles and B sides. The album only reached 103 on the Billboard Charts, mainly because his audience at the time was limited to African American fans; by 1964, he had not yet had the crossover success with white markets needed to bring him to the next level of fame.

Following the Release

In 1966, Redding boldly performed for predominantly white audiences at rock clubs along the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The response was tremendous. In 1967, the soul star recorded a highly successful duet album with Carla Thomas called King &Queen (Staz/Atlantic), which went certified gold. In 1967, Redding was invited to close the Saturday Night lineup at the highly publicized Monterey Pop Festival. His performance was magical, and the mainstream media took notice. With the performance and the press it received, Otis Redding finally began to enjoy superstardom and considerable wealth.

Sadly Redding's career and life came to a screeching halt when his plane crashed into Lake Montana, killing the singer, four bandmates, a valet, and the pilot on December 9 1967while on their way to a gig. Redding was only 26 years old. Three days before the crash, Redding, who was inspired by The Beatles' album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Album (Parlophone, 1967), recorded a tune intended to showcase a new creative direction "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." The song became a #1 hit, as people still felt tremendous pain from the singer's death. Awards: Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, and Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

Side 1

(+ means "recommended track" and * means released as a single)

Track 1- "Pain in My Heart" was written by New Orleans rhythm and blues legend Allen Toussaint. This song is s soul with a capital "S." It is a fantastic cut! Nobody sells "pain" better than Redding. The backing of the M.G.s and the horn arrangements fill my heart! Great track and single that peaked at only #60 on the charts. (*+)

Track 2- "The Dog" is Redding's response to Chubby Checker's dance hit, "The Twist." I don't know how to do the "dog" dance, but when Redding sings it, I want to try. What a voice!

Track 3- "Stand By Me" is Redding's version of a 1961 hit by Ben E. King. Redding and the M.G.s version has more grit than the original. We stand by Otis! (+)

Track 4- "Hey Hey Baby" is a jump blues written by Redding. The tune is highly energetic and perfectly performed. Take notice of the guitar solo played by Steve Cropper, who is never overly flashy but always tasteful. The tune grooves! (+)

Track 5- "You Send Me" is a remake of Sam Cooke's classic. Redding was a huge fan of Cooke, and this is a fitting tribute! 1964 would see the murder of Cooke and the beginning of a greater awareness of Redding. Both have been called the "King of Soul." Cooke and Redding were two stars whose light burnt out way too soon. (+)

Track 6- "I Need Your Lovin' was a popular R&B tune recorded by Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford in 1962. Take notice of the false ending in the song. The party starts, stops, and then starts up again. Based on the lyrics, Otis Redding needed a lot of love. He would eventually get it from the American public, and he has been rewarded posthumously with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and Songwriters Hall Of Fame (+)

Side 2

Track 1- "These Arms of Mine" is an original Redding ballad and an absolute classic. It's one of the greatest ballads ever recorded and is an album highlight. Although it only peaked at #85 on the Billboard Charts, the single eventually reached Gold Status. Check out Johnny Jenkin's guitar work on the track. The lyrics speak of loneliness and yearning. Open your arms and hearts and embrace this classic! (*+)

Track 2- "Louie Louie" is a three-chord classic initially recorded by Richard Berry and the Pharaohs in 1955. In 1963 the Kingsman had a massive hit with their version of the song. The lyrics are about a Jamaican sailor returning to the island to see his girl. I never quite understood the tune's appeal; it is basic in every way. Of the many recorded versions, Redding's might be the best.

Track 3- "Something is Worrying Me" is the B side to "Pain In My Heart." It's joyful music for someone "worried" about his relationship—a solid album track that is strong enough to have been an A-side release.

Track 4- "Security" was an original composition and a minor hit for Redding. It's got a serious groove and some well-placed horn figures. After the release of Paun In My Heart, Redding would have some "security," at least financially. (*+).

Track 5 - "That's What My Heart Needs" The song has a similar groove to "These Arms of Mine. Many of his songs are in 6/8 time, with the guitarist playing arpegiated figures (broken chords). Check out how the arrangement builds dynamically throughout. Redding clearly spends a lot of time thinking about his heart. Maybe he should have seen a cardiologist. (+)

Track 6- "Lucille" was a big hit for "Little Richard" in 1957 and a strong album closer. Redding does an excellent job on this remake, and check out the sax solo by Packy Axton (+).


Pain In My Heart is a fantastic debut album by one of the generation's greatest voices. There is not a disappointing track on the album. Besides his technical vocal prowess, Redding had a certain quality, or an "it" factor, that traditional analysis cannot explain. The backing band of the M.G.s helped give his music a distinct sound, creating a perfect blend of soul and R&B. Chart Position #104 Billboard Charts.

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