Recorded and released in 1966, Otis Redding's fifth album, Complete and Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul found the rugged-voiced deep soul singer continuing to expand the boundaries of his style while staying true to his rough and passionate signature sound. Redding's ambitious interpretations of "Tennessee Waltz" and especially "Try a Little Tenderness" found him approaching material well outside the traditional boundaries of R&B and allowing his emotionally charged musical personality to take them to new and unexpected places, and while his cover of "Day Tripper" wasn't his first attempt to confront the British Invasion, his invigorating and idiosyncratic take on the Beatles' cynical pop tune proved Redding's view of the pop music universe was broader than anyone might have expected at the time. While Redding's experiments with covers on this set were successful and satisfying, it was on his own material that he sounded most at home, and "My Lover's Prayer" and "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)" are deep Southern soul at its finest, with Redding's forceful but lovelorn voice delivering an Academy Award-worthy performance. And once again, the Stax house band (centered around Booker T. & the MG's and the Memphis Horns) prove themselves both thoroughly distinctive and remarkably adaptable, fitting into the nooks and crannies of Redding's voice with their supple but muscular performances. With the exception of his duet album with Carla Thomas, Complete and Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul was the last studio album Redding would fully complete before his death, and it proves his desire for a broader musical statement didn't begin when he encountered "the love crowd" at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming