Aretha Franklin With James Cleveland & The Southern California Community Choir - Amazing Grace (re-issue)

Published Friday 12th January 2007
Aretha Franklin With James Cleveland & The Southern California Community Choir - Amazing Grace (re-issue)
Aretha Franklin With James Cleveland & The Southern California Community Choir - Amazing Grace (re-issue)

STYLE: Gospel
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 13241-10624
LABEL: Atlantic 7567813242

Reviewed by Mike Rimmer

This is a legendary live gospel recording from 1972 which saw soul star Aretha Franklin return to her church roots. Recovering from the personal and professional challenges of a collapsed marriage, she united with Rev James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir to record two nights of gospel music in mid January 1972 and the results went on to win her a Grammy Award. Originally the album featured the best takes of the two nights but here on this CD re-release you get the full set from both nights. Cleveland acts as MC, Aretha just sings and boy, is it amazing. As was the fashion of the time, this is a mixture of traditional gospel tunes and a few contemporary inspirational songs that have been gospelised like "You'll Never Walk Alone", Marvin Gaye's "Wholly Holy" and "You've Got A Friend". There are also tunes from legends like Clara Ward and Thomas Dorsey. All along the way the church congregation get in the Spirit, hollering and clapping making this one of the most atmospheric gospel sets ever committed to tape. For my money, the two absolute highlights in the middle of a brilliant set are when Aretha really lets loose on the title cut and the hugely emotive "Mary Don't You Weep". The results are extraordinary and leave me wondering what sort of albums she might have made if she had stayed in gospel all her career. We'll never know but this is an absolute barn storming CD and landmark recording where one of the world's greatest ever vocalists is at the height of her powers.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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