Otis Redding – Hard to Handle

'Hard to Handle’ is one of soul legend Otis Redding’s best-known works and was originally featured on the album The Immortal Otis Redding, the first to be released following his death in a plane crash in 1967. It was famously covered by The Black Crowes in 1990 and was also featured heavily in the movie The Commitments. As with the majority of the Stax recordings, the Stax house band was used on the recording.

Stax Records was a record label famous for recording and releasing much of the soul music from the sixties onwards. It was founded in Memphis, Tennessee by record producer Jim Stewart and his sister and was originally known as Satellite Records. Although the label initially specialised in country and rockabilly music, they switched to rhythm and blues in the late fifties after Stewart became friends with R&B singer Rufus Thomas. The label’s first big hit was ‘Cause I Love You’, recorded by Rufus and his daughter Carla. This was followed soon after by ‘Last Night’, an instrumental by The Mar-Keys which became another big hit. After a conflict of interest regarding their name (there turned out to be another Satellite Records operating in California), the label changed its name to Stax in 1961. The name ‘Stax’ originates from the first two letters of Jim Stewart’s surname (ST) and the first two of his sister Estelle Axton’s (AX).

By 1962, Stax Records had a regular house band on the books - the Mar-Keys, who changed their name to Booker T. and the M.G’s. The band was led by pianist/saxophonist Booker T. Jones, and from 1964 onwards featured Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn on bass guitar. Booker and his band recorded as an act in their own right, but also backed every act that was recorded by Stax throughout the sixties and seventies. Compared to Berry Gordy’s Motown Records label, the Stax band had a looser, more relaxed working environment which allowed the musicians a significant amount of freedom to contribute ideas to the songs and grooves as opposed to simply playing parts provided by the arranger.

Like Motown over in Detroit, over time the Stax Records label became home to some of the biggest names in pop music during the sixties and seventies, including Otis Redding, the Bar-Kays, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd and Aretha Franklin.

Be sure to hit the Download Resources button above in order to download the PDF transcription for this piece. The transcription is available WITH TAB and WITHOUT. Please note that a backing track is NOT included with this course. The track used in the play-along can be purchased from www.karaoke-version.co.uk.

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