[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.