Otis Redding Dictionary Of SoulIt’s hard to know what the king of soul was thinking with that cover. The shoes alone are a rude rebuttal to the popular conception of Stax/Volt Records as the epicentre of ’60s cool.

The titular dictionary itself, printed in a panel on the back cover, is another stylistic oddity mostly lost in translation 50 years later. “Ou-yea (u’ ya’) adv.: to give in; a reply to get what one wants.” Huh?

What matters, of course, is that from bad graphics to unusually soft sell liner notes — “Searching for something interesting to do and enjoy? Here… put this album on your turntable” — VOLT 415 arrives on 180-gram vinyl as a perfect replica of its original pressing in October 1966.

There’s none of the bonus track distractions of the CD version, but the original sides are pressed on two LPs: stereo and naturally punchier mono. There’s also a bonus 7″ of Try A Little Tenderness (and I’m Sick Y’All), with one of them big ol’ holes in the middle and the kind of trippy Atlantic/ATCO paper sleeves that almost atones for the album cover.

Redding’s definitive version of Tenderness is the best known track on his fifth and sadly final full LP before that plane hit the icy surface of Lake Monona, Wisconsin, just over a year later.

Opening track Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa  (Sad Song) was the other single, and there’s also his killer version of the Beatles’ then-recent #5 hit, Day Tripper, with a Booker T organ groove that skates so close to wrong that it couldn’t be any more right.

The house band is essentially the MGs with the Memphis Horns, with guitarist Steve Cropper and pianist Isaac Hayes writing as well as laying down their unmistakable licks with that single-take goodness that bands forevermore will reference as an irretrievably lost ideal.

As for the soul man himself, My Lover’s Prayer and Love Have Mercy showcase his mighty soul holler and bark at the very peak of its pleading power. Don’t be fooled by the shoes.

Buy Now at JB Hi-Fi