No, not that Shake. But “Shake,” the decent Sam Cooke composition made first great and then absolutely fucking brilliant by the Big O, Otis Redding.
Sam Cooke – “Shake” (1964)
Sam’s original version of today’s featured tune is a passable dance number in the blues vein. Here is a quote from the excellent Sam Cooke comp, Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964:
“Cut at Sam’s last session in November 1964, less than a month before his death, it marked a real departure for his music, indicating his belief that r&b (and popular music in general) was heading in a direction that more and more was ‘almost all sound. It used to be that sound brought attention to the lyric,’ he explained – but what you needed to do now was to find sounds that could ’emotionally move’ and audience, ‘inject [the kind of] fervor that makes people want to dance.'”
It’s interesting that Sam came to some of the same conclusions that Miles and Coltrane and many of the mainstream jazz cats were coming to around the same time: that the next evolution of music was harmonic and melodic simplicity focused on the overall sound of the group, not the specific things the players were playing. Nevertheless, since Sam Cooke shone best when singing highly melodic songs, this song (played altogether too slowly) falls flat to my ears.
Otis Redding – “Shake” from Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (1966)
The song was perfect, however, for Otis Redding, the king of Southern soul. He lends his throat-tearing tendencies to the tune, imbuing it with the bluesy feel underneath the original version. This is one of the key tracks on the recently re-released classic and essential Otis Redding album. Thanks, Rhino.
Otis Redding – “Shake (live)” from Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (2008 double-disc reissue)
But this. Jesus. Just try to not crack into a wide-open smile listening to this. This is the sound of pure joy (Boon/Watt notwithstanding). Seriously. Come on. This is it. Can you imagine hearing this come over the radio in 1967? It would make everything else on the dial wither away in lameness.
Incidentally, the new reissue of Otis Blue (have I mentioned it enough?) is absolutely essential. It will change your life. Your listening habits, at the very least.
Posted by Glenn