Otis’ debut album, Pain In My Heart, landed in March 1964. It includes his breakout single, These Arms Of Mine, and three other songs lifted for 45s – That’s What My Heart Needs, the title track, and Security. Like a lot of debut records in the early ‘60s, much of the album’s content – six of its twelve songs – are covers of songs by established artists.
Backed by the in-house Stax recording band – essentially Booker T. & The M.G.’s and the Memphis Horns – Redding hits the ground running. Not only does he sound like a fully matured soul singer – he was only twenty-two years old at the time of recording – but he wrote or co-wrote five of the album’s tracks; the tentative first steps of a self-contained soul sensation in the making.
The album might lack some of the fire of Redding’s later recordings, but you can hear traces of what would come – particularly on the middle-eight of These Arms Of Mine. The band, too, sound almost reserved in their playing, not through any lack of confidence but probably out of professionalism and a drive to create a solid recording. The only sore point is the unimaginative album cover art, which looks like Otis sieg heiling at the podium of a political rally.
Twenty-two though; I’m sure I wasn’t writing songs about heartbreak and longing at that age…
Hit: These Arms Of Mine
Hidden Gem: The Dog