Thursday, April 4, 2013

Aretha Franklin - Queen of Soul: The Atlantic Recordings

Aretha Franklin is the second greatest female vocalist of all time. Of course the first is Ella Fitzgerald. The ranking of these two titans of vocal performance is not merely a matter of opinion. It is immutable fact. There will never be a female vocalist better than Aretha Franklin who is not named Ella Fitzgerald, and Ella Fitzgerald is now, and will always be, the greatest female vocalist of all time regardless of genre. But enough about Ella.

Aretha Franklin is exactly what this box set proclaims her to be: the queen of soul. Evidence of this fact can be proven by one song and one song alone. Otis Redding, one of the greatest soul singers of all time, wrote and recorded the original version of "Respect." When Aretha Franklin recorded "Respect," Otis Redding was quoted as saying, that Aretha had, by virtue of her performance, simply taken the song from him, making it her own.

This four disc box set is a fine overview of Aretha's career. The first three discs follow hits with even more hits, and there really isn't a weak point in them. There is a slight dip in quality on the fourth disc as Aretha's career branched out in a number of different directions, some of them ill-advised (Let us not forget that she cut a single with George Michael which, despite being a hit in terms of its standing on the charts, is a massive piece of garbage). Not everything on the fourth disc is gold, but there are two collaborations with Ray Charles on the disc, which almost make up for the missteps. I highly recommend the version of "Spirit in the Dark" with Ray Charles. It is absolutely inspired gospel music. Anyway, if you are a fan of Aretha Franklin and you're looking to get a whole bunch of her best tunes at once, I highly recommend this set.

Baleeted? No way. I'm still holding onto hope that Aretha might go out with me someday. 

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