Listen: I’m Satisfied / Otis Clay OtisClaySatisfied.mp3
Otis Clay began a monthly series of Soul/RnB legends making long overdue returns to NY, at the City Winery. Bob Perry instigated the idea – and kindly asked me to dj. I suggested Phil (Lord Warddd) come along and spar, each of us manning a separate turntable. Who would have thought it would be so much fun? We had an absolute ball spinning, real hardcore soul fans appreciating all the obscurities we’d brung along.
Then there was Otis Clay. From the time when you REALLY had to deliver if you wanted a record released, he learned his craft from the church and the man stunned us all. I walked in a fan, and out a disciple. At 67, his voice was more powerful, raw, pure and riveting as it ever could have possibly been – and he delivered it so effortlessly. We, the audience, were not ready.
Listen: I Testify / Otis Clay OtisClayTestify.mp3
Several times indeed, he testified – I’m sure that’s what you’d call it, breaking down songs to a cappella middle parts – and seriously taking us on an out of body, other worldly or some such experience. Certainly not an everyday occurrence by any stretch.
Despite including neither side of his earliest One-derful non-charter in tonight’s set, his eyebrows raised when I asked him to fill out a trusty jukebox tab, requesting this double punch as my choice.
He talked about his Hi Records days, the Hi Rhythm players, Willie Mitchell, and hasn’t a bitter bone in his body. See him if you can. He’s doing a very rare one off June 16 in Chicago.