Sunday, December 16, 2018

Certain Songs #1401: Otis Redding – “That’s How Strong My Love Is” | Medialoper

Album: The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads
Year: 1965

While Otis Redding’s second album, 1965’s The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads is probably my least favorite of all of his records, it does have perhaps my one of my all-time favorite album titles, leaving absolutely zero doubt as to what you’re gonna get.

Not to mention the absolute balls to start the title with “The Great” instead of just calling it Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads. I mean, they weren’t wrong, of course, because Otis was the greatest, but it was only his second album.

And in any event, maybe I wasn’t totally enamored with the album, but you know who was? The motherfucking Rolling Stones, who did an incredibly faithful cover of “That’s How Strong My Love Is” that on the back cover of the U.S. version of Out of Our Heads — the greatest of the early Stones albums, wanna fight? — is attributed to Otis, even though it was written by a guy named Roosevelt Jamison. That’s some ownage. (They also attribute “Mercy Mercy” to Otis, even though I couldn’t find any evidence that he ever recorded it, and I guess that nobody was going to fact-check Andrew Loog Oldham in 1965, so there it is.)

In any event, it was the Stones version that I heard first, stuck in the middle of the first side of a record that I played more than any other I bought in 1982, and so by the time I got to hear the Otis Redding version when I went on my mid-90s Amoeba buying spree, it took me a bit to hear past the near-identical arrangement to the stellar vocals.

If I was the sun way up there
I’d go with love most everywhere
I’ll be the moon when the sun goes down
Just to let you know that I’m still around

That’s how strong my love is, whoa
That’s how strong my love is
That’s how strong my love is, baby, baby
That’s how strong my love is

I mean, I love Mick Jagger to pieces, but let’s face it, Otis Redding just shreds him on this song, especially on the bridge:

I’ll be the ocean so deep and wide
And catch the tears whenever you cry
I’ll be the breeze after the storm is gone
To dry your eyes and love you warm

It also helps that drummer Al Jackson Jr is right up front in the mix, his quick snare steps pushing the song forward, and Steve Cropper’s snaky guitar lines spread out all over the horns, but in the end, it’s Mr. Redding living up to the comparisons of the sun, the moon and the ocean with his vocals. That’s just how strong his voice is.

“That’s How Strong My Love Is”

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