Our Top 10 Otis Redding Songs list looks back at the career of one of the greatest singers of all time. While many R&B and soul singers either specialized in uptempo numbers or ballads, Otis Redding lit up the room on both ends. He could rock and swing with the best of them while making you weep like a baby when he sang those slow hurting painful ballads. God only knows the career Otis Redding would have had if his life had not been cut short in a plane crash in 1967. He already had a magnificent career in such a short span of time defining himself as one of the greatest singers and songwriters of the 1960s.
Otis Redding’s albums were filled with cover songs and original compositions. That’s the way many artists released records in the 1960s. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles The Righteous Brothers and so many others artists released covers and originals early in their careers. Our Top 10 Otis Redding songs list takes a look at a mix of originals and cover songs that defined a brilliantly talented artist for the ages. Otis Redding released only six studio albums before he passed away. His first album was released in 1964 entitled Pain In My Heart.
He released two albums in 1965 entitled The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads and Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul. The following year in the Spring of 1966, Otis Redding released the album The Soul Album. In the Fall of 1966 Otis Redding released the great record Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul. His final album before he passed away was released in 1967 with Carla Thomas entitled King & Queen. Five posthumous albums were released from 1968 on including the record The Dock of the Bay in 1968. Overall, Otis Redding and his record companies released forty eight singles, ten studio albums, nine live albums and fifteen compilation albums
# 10 – She’s All Right
We open up the Top 10 Otis Redding songs list with the legendary singer’s first single release entitled “She’s All Right.” This great track was released in 1962 on Marble Arch Records in England. This was before he signed with Stax. This was groundbreaking pioneering music back then. No one was singing like this in 1962.
# 9 – Pain In My Heart
Otis Redding’s “Pain In My Heart,” was the title track to the singer’s major label debut album Pain In My Heart. The album was released in 1964. It was issued on The Stax Records subsidiary label Volt Records. “Pain In My Heart,” was actually released as a single before Otis Redding released the album.
# 8 -These Arms of Mine
Continuing with our Top 10 Otis Redding songs list we turn to another one of his early singles. This is one of the most important songs in the Otis Redding catalog because it was the song that got Otis Redding signed to Stax Records. The song was also released on Otis Redding’s first album Pain In My Heart. It would become Otis Redding’s first single release to break into the Billboard Hot 100.
# 7 – Shake (Live)
One of the great action packed rock and roll meets soul albums of all time was released by Stax Records in 1967 entitled Live In London. The album featured all the great Stax recording artists including Booker T and the M.G.’s, Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Sam & Dave, The Markays and of course Otis Redding. The great track “Shake,” was released as a single from the record. This one smokes. It must have been unbelievable to be in the audience that night to see Otis Redding perform this one.
# 6 – Tramp
Looking back at all these great Otis Redding songs we are reminded of all the great artists that recorded for Stax. One of the label’s most popular acts was singer Carla Thomas. The song presented here is a great duet between Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. The song was written by Lowell Fulson and Jimmy McCracklin. It was released on the album King & Queen in 1967.
# 5 – Mr. Pitiful
With the song “Mr. Pitful,” we go back to the year 1964 and the album The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads. The song was written by Otis Redding and the great guitarist from the Booker T. and the M.G.’s band, Mr. Steve Cropper. The song was a pretty big hit reaching number forty one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number ten on the R&B charts.
# 4 – I Can’t Turn You Lose
The intro to this one should sound familiar to all you Jake and Elwood fans. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers characters paid tribute to Otis Redding with their version of this great Otis Redding piece.
# 3 – A Change Is Gonna Come
Otis Redding’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” stands as one of Otis Redding’s greatest vocal performances. The song was released on the album Otis Blue. The record was released in 1965. It’s one of the most legendary soul albums of all time.
# 2 – I’ve Been Loving You Too Long
As we close in on the top spot of our top 10 Otis Redding songs list, we turn once again to the great Otis Redding album Otis Blue. This is our favorite Otis Redding song of all time. We wanted to place it in the number one spot but we had to take our personal feelings out of it. Most of the time we don’t, but this time we did. Simply because the next one was such a huge hit and pretty much stands as the most popular Otis Redding song of all time by a very far margin.
# 1 – (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay
Everyone knows this one. It’s an all time classic song. Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” was Otis Redding’s only number one song of his career. Sadly he never got to enjoy it as he died in a plane crash before the song was released. The song was written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper of the Booker T. & the M.G.’s band. The group also played on the track. Steve Cropper completed the recording after Otis Redding had died. The song was released in 1968.
Top 10 Otis Redding Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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