Review: Dreams To Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and The Transformation Of Southern Soul

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Dreams To Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and The Transformation Of Southern Soul

Mark Ribowsky
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Street: 06.01

Mark Ribowsky weaves together a brilliant narrative that explores the rise of Otis Redding in conjunction with the essential establishment of Stax Records as a powerhouse that greatly influenced and made the ’60s Southern soul scene. Dreams To Remember uses Redding’s life as the focal point that defined an era of soul music that came from the heart of Memphis and managed to rival Berry Gordy’s Motown label in Detroit—specifically by producing an authentic black soul sound to counter Gordy’s more white-friendly alternative. This is told by deeply exploring Redding’s legacy, which maintains the seemingly untarnished iconic status as the King of Soul, and expanding on the significance of hits like “These Arms of Mine,” “Respect” and his last single, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” Ribowsky draws on the relationships and lasting influences Redding had with notable figures in the soul scene, such as Atlantic’s Jerry Wexler, Stax’s Jim Stewart and Al Bell and legends like James Brown, Sam and Dave, Carla Thomas, Aretha Franklin and many others. Dreams To Remember is a must-read for those who love and recognize the lasting importance of soul music as a defining cultural trend that exceeds all expectations. –Nick Kuzmack