Otis ReddingThe Complete Stax/Volt Singles Collection (Shout! Factory)
Four and a half long decades after his plane-crash death at the age of 26, Otis Redding's best music remains unmatched, for the intensity and warmth of his singing as well as the craft and immediacy of his songwriting. Although a couple of his original LPs are genuine classics, most of Redding's career took place at a time when soul music was still delivered mainly in three-minute, seven-inch doses. So there's some logic to the snappily packaged 3-CD, 70-song Complete Stax/Volt Singles, even if its chronological-by-release-date sequencing proves less than illuminating. That puts Redding's posthumous 1968 hit "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" in the middle of disc two, followed by the flood of earlier recordings that Stax rushed out as singles to capitalize on the artist's postmortem popularity. Despite that, the Singles Collection is a consistently magnificent listen, and its lack of historical cohesion comes as a fair trade-off for the punchy mono single mixes that remain the best way to hear Redding. Less expansive but similarly persuasive spins the single-disc Lonely & Blue, which assembles a dozen aching, mostly lesser-known ballads into an idealized mixtape/mood piece that plays like the intimate late-night album that Redding never made. With the music housed in a faux-vintage sleeve with fake ring wear, the conceit works, thanks to compiler David Gorman's sensitive programming and the timeless power of the source material. Scott Schinder
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