BCB 100 - Aretha Franklin

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geoffcowgill
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BCB 100 - Aretha Franklin

Postby geoffcowgill » 15 Jun 2006, 15:16

I'll post two artists a day. General comments and favorite song and album picks, please.


Aretha Franklin is an artist I find quite over-rated. It's undeniable that she has an intensely powerful voice, but she doesn't always sound like she uses it well. She's not got enough talent to make the most of her gift, if you will. When she really connects with her material, the results are amazing. Unfortunately, her career seems too liberally littered with performances that lack grace, judgment, and intelligent empathy with the song. Sometimes I find her no more tolerable in her over-the-top caterwauling than Mariah Carey.

On the upside, though, she has come up with some beautiful, and pyrotechnic-free, performances like "Call Me" or "Daydreaming", songs that show off the strength of her voice without her using it like a wildly swung cudgel. Then, of course, her early Atlantic recordings have some justifiable classics on them. Maybe her previous work in a jazzier idiom or just her relative tentativeness as a youngster kept those full-blown vocal divaisms at bay. At any rate, my favorite recording of hers is probably "Baby I Love You," one of the greatest pop-soul singles ever. She never sounded sexier, for one, and the funk just bubbles like beans and rice percolating on the stove.

Her best album is probably I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You. A bit obvious, but definitely the most consistent album I've heard of hers. "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream" is a great, and unexpectedly different, track.

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Re: BCB 100 - Aretha Franklin

Postby Tactful Cactus » 15 Jun 2006, 15:23

geoffcowgill wrote:"Don't Let Me Lose This Dream" is a great, and unexpectedly different, track.


Yeah, thats easily my favourite track from that album, and proof too that her jazz/Broadway-Columbia self wasn't completely replaced. I love the "...wait a minute baby" bit. I think the majority (if not all) of the piano playing on the first album was by her aswell, which is another big part of her sound.

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Postby Matt Wilson » 15 Jun 2006, 16:03

She's got about a half dozen classic soul albums, not just I Never Loved a Man.

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Postby Clippernolan » 15 Jun 2006, 16:31

I think the thing that attracts me most to Aretha’s voice is not necessarily the power behind it, but how she uses her voice as a counterpoint to her back-up singers, and how they in return serve as an obvious driving force behind her own momentum in some of her best work. I was recently listening to her take on “Eleanor Rigby” on the Live at Filmore West album, for example. The push-me-pull-you of Aretha’s lead and the backup singer is some of the best examples of vocal arrangement and plain old chemistry that I’ve ever heard. To counter the whole Mariah thing, I think Aretha’s awareness of other singers and musicians on the track and the importance of what they were doing in relation to her lead is one of her main talents. Although Aretha demonstrates some of the same conventions as some of the so-called contemporary R&B singers, she sets herself apart by being a part of the band, and not an all-singing, all-dancing ego.
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Postby K » 15 Jun 2006, 16:31

True, but I've Never Loved a Man is a stone classic... and the song is one of the greatest things to have ever appeared on this earth.

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Postby Strider » 15 Jun 2006, 17:53

As Matt said above, there are several great Aretha late 60's-early 70's stone cold soul classics. Her legacy seems to suffer somewhat from Atlantic's mediocre marketing and promotion of her "great" albums. Go into any record store and chances are all you will find are "I Never Love a Man..." and "Lady Soul" along with the predictable "Greatest Hits". It would be nice to see an agressive reissue/remaster Rhino/Atlantic campaign for all her "classic" soul albums ("I Never Loved...", "Lady Soul", "Aretha Now", "Soul '69", "This Girls in Love with You", "Spirit in the Dark", and "Young, Gifted, and Black." "Amazing Grace" and "Live at the Fillmore" have already been given the deluxe reissue treatment. (for the "Live at the Fillmore," the reissued version is due out July 11).

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Postby Matt Wilson » 15 Jun 2006, 17:56

Strider wrote:As Matt said above, there are several great Aretha late 60's-early 70's stone cold soul classics. Her legacy seems to suffer somewhat from Atlantic's mediocre marketing and promotion of her "great" albums. Go into any record store and chances are all you will find are "I Never Love a Man..." and "Lady Soul" along with the predictable "Greatest Hits". It would be nice to see an agressive reissue/remaster Rhino/Atlantic campaign for all her "classic" soul albums ("I Never Loved...", "Lady Soul", "Aretha Now", "Soul '69", "This Girls in Love with You", "Spirit in the Dark", and "Young, Gifted, and Black." "Amazing Grace" and "Live at the Fillmore" have already been given the deluxe reissue treatment. (for the "Live at the Fillmore," the reissued version is due out July 11).


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Postby toomanyhatz » 15 Jun 2006, 18:49

I have the box set, but rarely pull it out to listen. I think I basically agree with what Geoff says above. Given the right material, she's brilliant. But she's definitely capable of histrionics. During the Atlantic period (66-70 or so), she was one of the greats. After that, for the most part, meh.
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Postby geoffcowgill » 15 Jun 2006, 18:50

"This Girl's In Love With You" and "Young, Gifted and Black" are both terrifically uneven albums. 'Stone cold classics' seems ridiculous hyperbole to me. I can't speak for the others since I don't have them.

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Postby Matt Wilson » 15 Jun 2006, 19:11

geoffcowgill wrote:"This Girl's In Love With You" and "Young, Gifted and Black" are both terrifically uneven albums. 'Stone cold classics' seems ridiculous hyperbole to me. I can't speak for the others since I don't have them.


Young, Gifted and Black is terrifically uneven to you. Most fans love it.

Her other great albums are:

I Never Loved a Man...
Lady Soul
Aretha Now
Soul '69
Spirit in the Dark
Amazing Grace


That's seven LPs of high quality. Not to mention other great singles not on said albums.

Many would say that XTC only have a good album or two. Doubtless you'd disagree.

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Postby The Fish » 15 Jun 2006, 19:12

Let's have no more of this "overrated" nonsense. Best singer of all time. End of.
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Postby Matt Wilson » 15 Jun 2006, 19:13

The Fish wrote:Let's have no more of this "overrated" nonsense. Best singer of all time. End of.


You'll get no argument from me.

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Postby The Fish » 15 Jun 2006, 19:15

Matt Wilson wrote:
The Fish wrote:Let's have no more of this "overrated" nonsense. Best singer of all time. End of.


You'll get no argument from me.


I know Matt. We just need to work on the rest of these fuckers.
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Postby Clippernolan » 15 Jun 2006, 19:18

The Fish wrote:
Matt Wilson wrote:
The Fish wrote:Let's have no more of this "overrated" nonsense. Best singer of all time. End of.


You'll get no argument from me.


I know Matt. We just need to work on the rest of these fuckers.


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Postby Owen » 15 Jun 2006, 19:19

Matt Wilson wrote:
geoffcowgill wrote:"This Girl's In Love With You" and "Young, Gifted and Black" are both terrifically uneven albums. 'Stone cold classics' seems ridiculous hyperbole to me. I can't speak for the others since I don't have them.


Young, Gifted and Black is terrifically uneven to you. Most fans love it.

Her other great albums are:

I Never Loved a Man...
Lady Soul
Aretha Now
Soul '69
Spirit in the Dark
Amazing Grace


That's seven LPs of high quality. Not to mention other great singles not on said albums.

Many would say that XTC only have a good album or two. Doubtless you'd disagree.


i would to, but probably for different reasons :)

Lady soul, soul 69, aretha now and aretha arrives are all cracking soul albums, YG+B has very high high points but is a little uneven. Spirit in the dark tries to be something more than the earlier ones and is interesting but is kind of a mishmash of musicians (all highly thought of of course)

I dont really think many of the songs on This Girls in love with you quite work, but it's really fun to hear her tackle them all, none of them are poor and even if she never really comes close to making any of them hers they are worth having.

I'm not a fan of amazing grace but i can understand why people like it.

Throw in the two live albums (the paris one for her doing her real soul set, the filmore for a better band and some interesting attempts at crossover) and as you say a bunch of other stuff and it's a very consistent run over about 5 years. Well worth getting all the albums

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Postby The Fish » 15 Jun 2006, 19:35

Clippernolan wrote:I hope you're not including me and my seemingly invisible post...


Who said that ?
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Postby Clippernolan » 15 Jun 2006, 19:37

The Fish wrote:
Clippernolan wrote:I hope you're not including me and my seemingly invisible post...


Who said that ?


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Postby Matt Wilson » 15 Jun 2006, 19:45

I didn't include the Fillmore album because, alas, I've never heard it.
A certain ex-Marine, Southern BCBer has promised it to me (along with some other stuff...) but I seem to await its arrival in vain. The fact that I sent him some box sets last year for his burning pleasure and that he kept for months notwithstanding, of course... :lol:

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Postby Clippernolan » 15 Jun 2006, 19:47

Matt Wilson wrote:I didn't include the Fillmore album because, alas, I've never heard it.


It's my favourite of hers.
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Postby Matt Wilson » 15 Jun 2006, 19:48

Did someone just say something?