STYLE: R&B RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 86396- LABEL: Kent CDKEND325 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Matthew Cordle
The diva who began recording gospel in the Church of her famed father Rev C L Franklin and in the mid '60s hit paydirt as the Queen Of Soul with Atlantic Records mega-hits, had a six year spell at Columbia Records. This compilation offers 24 of her Columbia masters, a lot of the songs she cut in this period were standards, and of the tracks here only three are written by her. Musically they are flawless examples of the styles of the day and her voice soars, growls and croons with her trademark power & dexterity across varying styles of music - big band, blues, lounge-jazz and pop as well as R&B. But though Aretha's vocal approach and technique is straight out of black church there isn't a hint of gospel material here, and one wonders what happened to the girl who sang those wonderful songs such as "There is a Fountain Filled With Blood" and "Yield Not to Temptation" with her father. The lyrics here couldn't be further away from the grace and spirituality of that time. The opening "Rough Lover" demands a "rough, tough lover" and almost all the rest of the songs reflect bitter experience in love, with betrayal, regret and a hint of desire for revenge being the main themes. I know it's just the order the songs were compiled in but it's almost as if she got her rough lover, and along with him a whole load of unwanted other traits that come as part of that package. Lines such as "You think it's great to have a whole lot of chicks/So show me the one that can teach an old dog new tricks" from "I'll Keep On Smiling" sadly show Aretha as being in a rather different place from the previous era of her life. Although often musically excellent, this delve into the archives sounds like what it is, a Church girl chasing after the secular money and in the process losing much.
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