Otis Redding's talent began to surge, across songs and their stylesand absorbing them , with the recording of The Soul Album. In contrast to The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, which was an advance over its predecessor but still a body of 12 songs of varying styles and textures, rising to peaks and never falling before an intense, soulful mid-range, The Soul Album shows him moving from strength to strength in a string of high-energy, sweaty soul performances, interspersing his own songs with work by Sam Cooke ("Chain Gang"), Roy Head ("Treat Her Right"), Eddie Floyd ("Everybody Makes A Mistake"), and Smokey Robinson ("It's Growing") and recasting them in his own style, so that they're not "covers" so much as reinterpretations; indeed, "Chain Gang" is almost a rewrite of the original, though one suspects not one that Cooke would have disapproved of. He still had a little way to go as a songwriter -- the jewel of this undervalued collection is "Cigarettes And Coffee, co-authored by Eddie Thomas and Jerry Butler -- but as an interpreter he was now without peer, and his albums were now showing this remarkable, stunningly high level of consistency. Also significant on this album was the contribution of Steve Cropper, not only on guitar but as co-author of three songs. Further, as revealed in the remastered Rhino CD, Stax Records was starting to put more into his LPs in thew recording, taking more time and delivering a better, fuller sound than on the two preceding albums, especially where Al Jackson's drums and the Mar-Keys' horns are concerned.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder