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RIP Aretha

We mark the passing, yesterday, of one of the giants among us. This one hurts.

Baby, baby, baby I love you. RIP.



Please note:

We will be at the cottage for our annual family excursion. Wifi there always sucks, so I won’t even try to be online. However, I’ll have my iPod with me, loaded to the teeth with all the rest of my Toasty Taranna scores and a zillion other albums besides, and I’ll use the interwubs silence to fill my ears with tunes. I’ll write notes for posts, and deluge you with it all when we drag our sun-soaked, waterlogged, beach-addled carcasses back to civilization. Laters. A.

Aretha Franklin – Let Me In Your Life

The Beam Me Up Scotty’s Series, Part 12/25 (LP)

Let’s go back to Aretha circa 1974 (the year I was born!) and discover a completely soulful, groovy, freaking fantastic record.

Honestly, I could listen to Aretha sing all day. In fact, I have done just that. She’s so talented it’s not even fair to other singers. Pure soul, this is fun, sexy, danceable greatness. When she belts out a ballad like Aint Nothin’ Like The Real Thing, you believe her.

Glorious late night soul bliss jams. Love you, Aretha!

Aretha Franklin – Aretha

The Beam Me Up Scotty’s Series, Part 9 (LP)

Aretha jams a soulful intro to Jimmy Lee before it devolves into a template 80s pop tune. George Michael duets on the hit I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), Keith and Ronnie are on Jumpin’ Jack Flash (from the movie), and Rock-A-Lott does anything but.

The rest of the album carries on, and it was popular back then, but it’s (naturally) pretty dated. The only real saving grace here is Aretha’s voice. No matter the music, she can sing!

* The cover art for this record was Andy Warhol’s final work before his death in 1987.


Aretha Franklin – Aretha’s Gold

[Atlantic Records SD-8227, 1969]

I think you can tell, in my early days of buying vinyls, that I am after the ones I’ll keep forever. The solid friends that will never leave me. Case in point:

What can I say about Aretha, except she is AMAZING. She IS soul, never far from her gospel roots, and possessed of so much power and grace that all the so-called R&B singers of today wither in her shadow. This early collection of brilliant classics proves it.


I Never Loved A Man (The Way That I Love You), the title of which always made me think she was talking to another woman, is one helluva way to start this anthology. So soulful, a showcase for the true power of Aretha’s vocals.

Do Right Woman, Do Right Man is such a gorgeous track, a soul-song equivalent of a big warm hug.

Respect (written by Otis Redding, don’t-cha know) needs no introduction at all, nor comment from me (except WOW!).

Dr. Feelgood is a great blues in the classic soul/blues tradition.

Baby, I Love You, a song that my lovely wife used to leave on my answering machine when we were dating. So of course I have a soft spot for this one, but it’s still one helluva track.

(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman improves greatly with Aretha’s rendition. With strings! Chain Of Fools just smokes. What a groove, with a swing! Damn.

And if that wasn’t enough to prove this is the First Lady Of Soul, there’s another whole side to absorb…


Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby) is a peppy masterpiece. Great bass and piano.

Ain’t No Way is a lovely slow dancer that seethes with emotion.

Think is another of those monster tracks we all know and love.

You Send Me (written by Sam Cooke, don’t-cha know) is just a fabulous version that picks up the pace over the original.

The House That Jack Built is another indelible groove, with plenty of horns and backing vocals.

Burt Bacharach’s I Say A Little Prayer feels most out of place here, mostly because it’s closer to the original and, therefore, the least like Aretha’s trademark soul.

See Saw, a Steve Cropper tune (you need to know who this is, if you don’t already), brings the whole she-bang to a beautiful close.

I could listen to Aretha any time of the day or night. Love it.

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