Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Aretha: a playlist

Playing Aretha Franklin tracks on shuffle on the iPod has made me realise how much of her output I have and like, ever since those late '60s. I may have been 13 in 1959 (subject of my last post below), but 10 years later I was 23, sharing that large maisonette with 2 friends in South London. Stan introduced me to Aretha in 1967, and I introduced him and Joe to that young Joni Mitchell in '69 .. We had seen Aretha live in London in 1968, and then again in 1970 - when she must have been at her considerable peak, before she stopped flying to Europe. (Stan was agog at her '68 show as he was sitting behind her brother, and was able to eavesdrop on the family). This then, for Stan, is a random selection of my favourites - 20 or more. 

Thats Why I Sing The Blues
Good to me As I Am To You - with Eric Clapton on guitar, from LADY SOUL.
Ain't No Way
A Deeper Love - all those remixes 
Night Time Is The Right Time
Dr Feelgood
Do Right Woman Do Right Man
Drown In My Own Tears
Today I Sing The Blues
Running Out Of Fools
Spirit in the Dark
A Natural Woman
I Never Loved A Man (the way I love you)
Chain of Fools
Don't Play That Song
Border Song - She makes Elton's song sound even better, as she did with The Band's The Weight and The Beatles' Let It Be.
See Saw
Until You Come Back To Me
Share Your Love With Me
Pledging My Love/The Clock
Dark End Of The Street
Sit Down and Cry
The Thrill is Gone
Sweet Bitter Love

That LIVE AT THE FILLIMORE album with Ray Charles is a terrific sample of her at her best. 
It was fun too seeing Aretha back with a bang in the disco 80s, with those hits produced by Michael Narada Walden: 

Who's Zooming Who?
Freeway of Love

and those later albums. It would be terrific if, after those health scares and weight problems, she stunned us all with some more terrific songs and vocals. Looking at her discography and album covers there is so much out there, various compilations from those Columbia, Atlantic, Arista years. Those Atlantic recordings at Muscle Shoals, Alabama may be her peak recordings, but those early Captiol years had nuggets as well, even when she was recording showtunes and standards, with songs like "Won't Be Long", "Soulville" and "Until You Were Gone".
There is not that much Aretha on film availabile, apart from those '80s hit videos with Annie Lennox and George Michael; luckily I recorded that 1993 tv show where Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman introduced her, and where Elton, Rod and Smokey played her back-up group "The Aretha-aires" (as per previous post, see Aretha label), and that Divas concert on VH1 which was spine-tingling when Aretha and Carole King sang King's "Natural Woman" with Mariah, Celine, Shania and Gloria Estefan on backing vocals ...her 2 gospel albums are essential as well. 

Aretha, and Barbra and Joni must surely be the top female vocalists of the last 50 years or so, not ignoring Ella or Sarah or Nancy Wilson and of course Dusty Springfield or Joan Armatrading, thats a top 5 then ...

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