Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Otis Redding: Shout Bamalama/Fat Gal (King 45-6149)
YEEEOWWWW!!!!!! Can we say MONSTER 2-SIDER here? Yes, friends, this is what it's really all about! Not only is this the first 45 from one of the greatest soul men of all time, but it's a stellar example of a 45 in which both sides smoke, smoke, SMOKE!!! No smooth stuff here, nosireee! This is pure pedal-to-the-floorboard rhythm & blues black rocker stuff!
A little attempt at history first: This was originally released on the Orbit label (Orbit 135) as by Otis Redding and the Pinetoppers. Years later, King picked it up and reissued it, which is the label you see here. Now, my Goldmine Price Guide to 45 RPM Records lists King's issue as 1968. Either way, copies of this are a bit pricey. I got my King 45 off eBay for $30, while I've seen copies of the Orbit release go as high as $300.
(NOTE: I'm going to assume the Orbit and King releases are the same recording until someone tells me otherwise).
But enough of that record collector mumbo-jumbo. It's whats in the grooves that count and both sides of this have got the grooves! "Shout Bamalama" begins with the voices of the band laughin' and kickin' it before Otis goes "Hold it! Hold it!" Then, he lets go with that world-famous deep Southern soul voice of his and the band zaps you with lightning force, complete with wild,honkin' sax and bass so rumbling you'd swear there was an earthquake in your living room. Otis fires off the first shot like this:
Deep down in Alabama,
Way down in Louisiana,
Well, well, well,
nobody's gonna set 'em down.
Then, he lets go with a couple of crazy stories like this one:
Lord have mercy on my soul,
How many chickens have I stole?
One last night and the night before,
I'm goin' back to try and get 10 or 'leven more!
And on and on until the final fade less than two minutes later. But up until then, Otis' raw vocals and the band's merciless soul attack leave you gasping for breath and giving the song a well-deserved "WOW!"
But Otis ain't through with you yet! "Fat Gal" delivers 2:10 minutes more of that same intensity, with more honkin' sax and rumbling bass than mortal man deserves. This time around, Otis warbles about the unfortunate gal of the title who has to "wiggle when she walk." His delivery here is as raw, yet tuneful as before and is only enforced by the burnin' hot band complete with crazy guitar and a couple of scorchin' sax solos.
Need it be reiterated what was to happen after this? You know, all those great Volt sides and the plane crash that took him and 4 members of The Bar-Kays, the great legacy he left behind and all that. This, people, is where the seed was planted. And it was growing wild and rough. In fact, this is probably the rawest Otis Redding sides I've ever heard, until the "experts" point me in the "right" direction. But even if they do, this 2-sided masterwork ranks as a true all-time fave, fat gals, stolen chickens and all. Oh, and let's not forget the preachers and the bear, either. (Listen to "Shout Bamalama" and you'll get that last one.)
Mickey Murray later recorded a version of "Shout" that's okay, but Otis' original version still cuts it to smithereens. Sorry, Todd.