One of the best things to come out of the arrival of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Otis”, besides the gleeful listening experience of hearing the two rap titans flex their big willie muscle atop the awesomely ridiculous Otis sample and the equally infectious visuals from one of the most “funnest” big-budget hip hop videos we’ve seen in a long time, is realizing how many young kids took to the Internetz upon the song’s initial emergence to seek out the sample source and ended up being introduced to arguably one of the greatest soul records of all time.
Otis Redding may not have been the first artist to tackle the tune, that would be the Ray Noble Orchestra and singer Val Rosing’s oh-so-vanilla 1932 recording, nor the last (variously successful remakes have come from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Three Dog Night, Tina Turner, Michael Buble and Chris Brown, among many others), but his 1966 rendition surely stands as the most definitive version of the song, the then-25-year-old’s electrifying, church-trained vocal performance atop production collaborators Jim Stewart, Isaac Hayes and Booker T. & The MG’s stunning soul and gospel-marrying arrangement delivering all that anyone could ever ask for in a classic R&B record.
Where does Peter Bjorn and John‘s recent cover performance of “Tenderness”, for The AV Club’s summer-long “A.V. Undercover 2011” series, rank in comparison? Obviously not better than Otis’, but the sheer amount of fan-boy enthusiasm they bring to their rocking re-imagining makes their version a delightful one to watch over and over again.