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NOD TO THE GODS: Otis Redding & Carla Thomas, ‘Tramp’
March 2, 2014
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Each and every Sunday night when the clock hits eight, The Strombo Show celebrates the spirit of radio over on CBC Radio 2. It's music for music lovers by music lovers. To kick off the program, we always tip our hats to the legends, the noisemakers and the ground-breakers in a segment that we like to call: Nod to the Gods.

It takes two to make a thing go right. We're going to explore the idea of how we are better together than apart with duets and some of the greatest collaborations of all time. Many are familiar with the love-lorn harmonizing between Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, but tonight we'll remember the good natured ribbing between Otis Redding and Carla Thomas on "Tramp."

King & Queen was Redding's final studio album, and it sparkles off the undeniable chemistry between the two. As the daughter of Rufus Thomas, Carla is often referred to as the Queen of Memphis Soul, and the Stax label hoped that they'd have success similar to the aforementioned Gaye and Terrell. Carla already had many singles appear in both the Hot 100 and Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles charts. When Redding agreed to record with Thomas, he reporttedly said, "Well, hey, you from Memphis, you from Tennessee, you can hang".

"Tramp" was recorded in less than a week, while Carla continued to study English at Howard University in Washington. No surprise, as the album features an all-star house band of Booker T. and the MGs, Isaac Hayes on the keys and the brass section is courtesy of The Memphis Horns. Its instrumentals are so tight that they have been featured in a hanful of hip-hop tracks that include Wu-Tang Clan's "Da Master of Chessboxin'" and Salt'N'Pepa's "Tramp."

A few months after "King & Queen" was released, Redding passed away. Aretha Franklin stated, "I heard it on the TV. My sister Caroline and I stopped everything and stayed glued to the TV and radio. It was a tragedy. Shocking." Redding, along with members of the Bar-Kays, crashed into Lake Monona. It was just three days after Redding recorded "Siittin' On The Dock Of The Bay," and a day after he appeared on a Cleveland-based television program, "Upbeat."

For further musical musings, new and old, join the collective for The Strombo Show on CBC Radio 2, every Sunday night at 8PM. And if you'd like to catch up or relisten, all of the episodes are archived here.


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