Monday, December 17, 2007


By Falling James!

More than anything else, this new DVD emphasizes what a warm, funny, dynamic and larger-than-life figure Otis Redding was onstage, in ways that even his concert albums haven’t made clear. It’s one thing to hear that explosive voice, and it’s quite another to hear it while also witnessing the electrifying way he dominates a stage, shaking from within like a volcano.

Dreams to Remember mixes positively incendiary live footage, TV appearances and goofily charming promo films with interviews with former band mates Steve Cropper and Wayne Jackson, Redding’s wife Zelma, Stax Records head Jim Stewart and others. Redding’s sheer force of personality even lights up the corny early lip-synched TV spots, and the promo films for “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)” and the down-on-the-farm lovers’ quarrel with Carla Thomas on “Tramp” are better than most videos, thanks to his easy-going clowning and inherent, unforced acting ability.

Of course, the truly live performances are the most thrilling parts; I kept getting literal chills up and down the elevators of my spine throughout the Monterey Festival highlights, as well as the Stax/Volt Revue in London in 1967, where he reclaims “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and “Satisfaction” from the Rolling Stones with total confidence. Even as he’s giving praise to Mick Jagger, he can’t help coming off as a full-grown, fully mature and aware MAN in comparison to the geeky Stones.

His versions of “Try a Little Tenderness” and “Respect,” with tight, sophisticated backing by the Bar-Kays, would be astonishing and precious in any universe, even if they weren’t recorded mere hours before the tragic plane crash in Wisconsin.

By the end of the documentary, I was bawling uncontrollably, probably for the first time in many years over something that I wasn’t directly involved with or feeling selfish about on some level. It’s not that the story here was told sentimentally or was fishing for cheap and obvious emotions, it’s that you feel such a deep loss merely by having the DVD end, much less recalling the cold-blooded rudeness of death permanently taking away such a musical giant, such a monumental, godlike voice belonging to such an unpretentiously likable soul.

And I do mean soul.

BONUSES: There are more interviews with Jackson and Cropper, a photo gallery and a 22-page booklet with detailed liner notes and bio.

"Dreams to Remember: The Legacy of Otis Redding" is available at the Stax Museum gift shop or on the Stax Museum's online shop at


Martin Schafer said...

You had me at bawling uncontrollably. Needless to say I ordered that sucker immediately, as I was waiting for a good documentary on Otis for ages.

wendy said...

Tim, thanks for your comment today on my new blog ... that was fast, I've only been blogging for 3 days! I've already put the dvd in my netflix queue and will look forward to a major catharsis watching it. Someday I hope to make it to Memphis to see the Museum.