Otis Clay – 1972 – Trying To Live My Life Without You

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Review by Soulmakossa

Posting & additional info’s by Nikos

If you’ve yet to listen to Otis Clay, you are missing a vital link in the chain of roots to pop history. Soulful, bluesy, and rockin’, this album features great guitarwork and the famous HI records horn section and backup singers. Be sure to check out “Trying to Live My Life Without You” and “Precious Precious“. If you like Anne Peebles, Aretha Franklin, King Curtis, or Soloman Burke, you’ll be an Otis fan for life.

Otis Clay, returned South by way of Chicago, and cut some blistering records of pure, Southern Soul.

Produced by Memphis soul genius Willie Mitchell, Clay’s first album for Hi Records (also home to Al Green and Syl Johnson) is a must for fans of deep, deep Southern Soul.


A1 Trying to Live My Life Without You 2.52
A2 I Die a Little Each Day 2.43
A3 Holding on to a Dying Love 3.02
A4 I Can’t Make It Alone 2.56
A5 That’s How It Is 3.38
B1 I Love You, I Need You 5.48
B2 You Can’t Keep Running from My Life 2.49
B3 Precious Precious 3.17
B4 Home Is Where the Heart Is 2.55
B5 Too Many Hands 2.47

Trying to Live My Life Without You” sounds quite upbeat and catcy, despite the depressing title, but the way Otis belts and wails out the anguished lyrics is proof enough of the song’s inherent sadness.
Things get really low-down, however, on a beautiful version of Don Bryant’s “I Die a Little Each Day“. The gentle, steady beat, churchy organ, gospelish backing vocals and shimmering strings make this the most delicate song on the album. “Holding on to a Dying Love” opens with the same strings, but soon makes way for a stomping groove, with Clay’s gutbucket vocals beautifully augmented by the backup singing – provided by Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes.
Clay gets brutally honest on the hard socking “I Can’t Make It Alone“, a ballad filled with self-doubt and despair. By the time Otis reaches the chorus, you know you’ve landed in the deepest of deep soul. Again, the strings are tastefully arranged and the chiming piano in the back works brilliantly.

Side A ends similarly low-key with “That’s How It Is”, a mid-tempo ballad that nonetheless features a heavy backbeat (courtesy of drummer Howard Grimes). The soft, purring Hammond organ and subdued brass (Memphis Horns!) add to the despondent mood, while Teenie Hodges’ guitar fills at the end are plain spooky.
The mood remains pretty much the same on the flipside, with the minor keyed, bluesy wailer “I Love You, I Need You“. Also, the Hammond isn’t purring here no more, it’s growling. Clay’s treatment of the final verses is mindblowing, especially as the seem improvised at the spot. “You Can’t Keep Running From My Love” struts along funkily, a fine mid-tempo groover, with Clay’s famous raspy vocal wrapped all around the commanding lyrics, while “Precious, Precious” is all-out party down R&B-vibe; a rollicking gospel beat, incessant backup vocals and lazy (in a good way) horns.
Stax-songwriter Bettye Crutcher wrote the delicious, sweltering ballad “Home Is Where the Heart Is“, a fantastically arranged gem (brilliant, ‘twirling’ guitar parts) that has Otis Clay gettin’ down philosophically with that booming, smokey voice of his.

Then, out of nowhere, Otis and company hit you over the head with a finale of high powered, live-wired, greasy, delta-soaked funk; “Too Many Hands” (… in the pot, spoil the soup) is one of those great Southern metaphors set-to-music, and a great conclusion to this brooding, often beautifully sad LP

Buy the AlbumOtis Clay – 1972 – Trying To Live My Life Without You

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Conversation for album: Otis Clay – 1972 – Trying To Live My Life Without You

  • Dan
    Posted at 06:39h, 17 January 2012 Reply

    Wow, what a great post! Thanks so much for this one. Doesn’t get any better than Otis Clay, Willie Mitchell & Hi Records.

  • Robert
    Posted at 10:41h, 17 January 2012 Reply

    He’s amazing. Saw him once in NYC…in the 90’s. Thanks for posting.

  • Sik
    Posted at 12:18h, 17 January 2012 Reply

    Well thanks for this I love me some Otis Clay. His version of Precious is fantastic

  • Grumpy
    Posted at 12:51h, 17 January 2012 Reply

    Whoo-hoo, great one!!! Thanks!!!

  • Giovanni
    Posted at 21:35h, 17 January 2012 Reply

    Wow, what a great singer!! Thanks for the link!!

  • rich
    Posted at 22:20h, 17 January 2012 Reply

    thanx nikos

  • Brotherpete
    Posted at 23:05h, 17 January 2012 Reply

    thanks a lot dear Nikos!

  • Holly
    Posted at 23:56h, 17 January 2012 Reply

    A classic. Thank y’all very much.
    And I love the Soul Train clip!

  • Dreamer456
    Posted at 05:40h, 18 January 2012 Reply

    Thanks so much.

  • Frankie T
    Posted at 00:28h, 19 January 2012 Reply

    Wow! Amazing! Thank you!

  • Priest
    Posted at 13:50h, 19 January 2012 Reply

    the man is bad to the bone.  smooth as wine.

  • Mafu
    Posted at 18:59h, 20 January 2012 Reply

    Thanks for sharing love willie mitchells sound

  • Uma
    Posted at 19:52h, 20 January 2012 Reply

    He has soul from the heart, great singer.

  • Dimitris
    Posted at 12:28h, 21 January 2012 Reply

    Excellent post. This site is a goldmine.

  • Lenny
    Posted at 14:08h, 21 January 2012 Reply

    Wow! Great find!

  • Eddie
    Posted at 22:23h, 21 January 2012 Reply

    I have found some really great music I didn’t know existed before!!

  • Anastasia
    Posted at 12:41h, 22 January 2012 Reply

    I’m amazed by his voice. I will certainly buy his music.

  • Fábio
    Posted at 17:12h, 22 January 2012 Reply

    Hello! Good afternoon. How are you? Could you provide the file again? He was deleted. Thank you very much. Greetings from Brazil.

  • Kevin
    Posted at 17:58h, 22 January 2012 Reply

    Thanks to you!

  • W
    Posted at 02:11h, 24 January 2012 Reply

    A real 5* record. Otis C’s finest.

  • Dr.Who
    Posted at 09:34h, 25 January 2012 Reply

    Such an amazing record.

  • Igor
    Posted at 19:50h, 26 January 2012 Reply

    Superb album. otis clay,the man with the muscle bounded voice! everything he recorded is amazing!!

  • hooch
    Posted at 14:37h, 27 January 2012 Reply

    Thank you guys – cracking LP..love it!

  • Johnny
    Posted at 00:36h, 28 January 2012 Reply

    Diggin this hard.

  • Appreciative Visitor
    Posted at 08:59h, 28 January 2012 Reply

    This is a great one, thank you so much.

  • whoknows
    Posted at 23:41h, 29 January 2012 Reply

    Thanks for this one fellas, look forward to checking it out!

  • Kelly
    Posted at 07:56h, 09 February 2012 Reply

    In your post you stated, “If you like Anne Peebles, Aretha Franklin, King Curtis, or Soloman Burke, you’ll be an Otis fan for life.” That immediately caught my attention because I am a fan of those artists, but I had never heard of Otis Clay. Well, your description was bang-on – I’m loving this album, especially the songs “Trying to Live My Life Without You”, “Too Many Hands”, and “I Didn’t Know the Meaning of Pain…”. I predict at least half of the songs will be on my listening list for quite some time. Thank you so much!

  • Daz
    Posted at 14:22h, 18 September 2012 Reply

    What an album, fantastic, many thanks and keep up the good work, it’s very appreciated!

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