Wednesday, 20 August 2014

"Rare & Unreleased Recordings From The Golden Reign Of The Queen Of Soul: by ARETHA FRANKLIN (2007 Rhino 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...





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"...Taking Care Of Business..." 

Jerry Wexler: "...It started to get good in there…"
Aretha Franklin: "...Yes it did…"

For Queen Of Soul fans/lovers of Atlantic Records and their talent-nurturing genius - listening to a clearly enamoured Jerry Wexler talk to Aretha Franklin from the control booth during the Demo recording of "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" is a truly gobsmacking thing - like eavesdropping on magic (the dialogue above). This fabulous and long-awaited plunder of her historic sessions at Atlantic Records between 1967 and 1974 is a dream come true. Here are the 'what it is' details…

UK and USA released in October 2007 – "Rare & Unreleased Recordings From The Golden Reign Of The Queen Of Soul" by ARETHA FRANKLIN is a 35-track 2CD set on Rhino R2 272188 (USA) and Rhino 8122-79970-3 (in the UK and Europe) and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (66:15 minutes)
1. I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) [1967 Demo]
2. Dr. Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business) [1967 Demo]
3. Sweet Bitter Love ["Aretha Arrives" outtake, 1967]
4. It Was You [a James Brown cover, "Aretha Arrives" outtake, 1967]
5. The Letter ("Aretha Arrives" outtake, 1967]
6. So Soon [a Van McCoy cover, "Aretha Arrives" outtake, 1967]
7. Mr. Big ["Aretha Now" outtake, 1968]
8. Talk To Me, Talk To Me ["Soul '69" outtake, 1969]
9. The Fool On The Hill [a Beatles cover, "This Girl's In Love With You" outtake, 1968]
10. Pledging My Love/The Clock ["Pledging My Love" is a Johnny Ace cover – a non-album B-side to "Share Your Love With Me", 1969 USA 45 on Atlantic 2650]
11. You're Taking Up Another Man's Place [an Isaac Hayes/David Porter song, "Spirit In The Dark" outtake, 1970]
12. You Keep My Hangin' On [a Holland-Dozier-Holland song, "This Girl's In Love With You" outtake, 1968]
13. I'm Trying To Overcome [an outtake from the "This Girl's In Love With You" and "Spirit In The Dark" sessions, 1968]
14. My Way ["Spirit In The Dark" outtake, Frank Sinatra cover, 1970]
15. My Cup Runneth Over ["Young, Gifted & Black" outtake, 1972]
16. You’re All I Need To Get By (Take 1)
17. You’re All I Need To Get By (Take 2) [16 and 17 are an Ashford & Simpson song (a hit for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell) – they're outtakes from 1970 – alternate versions to the single Atlantic 2787]
18. Lean On Me [Joe Cobb/Van McCoy song, non-album B-side to "Spanish Harlem", 1971 USA 45 on Atlantic 2817 (not the Bill Withers song)]

Disc 2 (72:38 minutes):
1. Rock Steady (Alternate Mix) ["Young, Gifted & Black" outtake, 1972]
2. I Need A Strong Man (The To-To Song) ["Young, Gifted & Black" outtake, 1972]
3. Heavenly Father ["Young, Gifted & Black" outtake, 1972]
4. Sweetest Smile And The Funkiest Style ["Hey Now Hey (The Other Side Of The Sky)" outtake, 1973]
5. This Is ["Hey Now Hey (The Other Side Of The Sky)" outtake, 1973]
6. Tree Of Life [a Gene McDaniels cover, "Hey Now Hey (The Other Side Of The Sky)" outtake, 1973]
7. Do You Know ["Hey Now Hey (The Other Side Of The Sky)" outtake, 1973]
8. Can You Love Again ["Hey Now Hey (The Other Side Of The Sky)" outtake, 1973]
9. I Want To Be With You [“Hey Now Hey (The Other Side Of The Sky)” outtake, 1973]
10. Suzanne [Leonard Cohen cover - “Hey Now Hey (The Other Side Of The Sky)” outtake, 1973]
11. That's The Way I Feel About Cha (Alternate Version) [a Bobby Womack cover - "Hey Now Hey (The Other Side Of The Sky)" outtake, 1973]
12. Ain't But The One – with RAY CHARLES and DAVE GRUSIN [a Duke Ellington cover]
13. The Happy Blues ["Let Me In Your Life" outtake, 1974]
14. At Last ["Let Me In Your Life" outtake, 1974]
15. Love Letters ["Let Me In Your Life" outtake, 1974]
16. I'm In Love (Alternate Vocal) [a Bobby Womack song and Wilson Pickett cover, “Let Me In Your Life” outtake, 1974]
17. Are You Leaving Me (Demo)

The 24-page booklet has enthusiastic and knowledgeable liner notes by Soul legends - (Original Producer) JERRY WEXLER and (Noted Writer) DAVID RITZ – the text peppered with ‘in-the-studio’ photos of Aretha giving it some welly at the microphone and piano. Rhino’s resident tape-wizards BILL INGLOT and DAN HERSCH have done the transfers and remasters – and wonderful stuff it is too – especially on the Seventies tracks where the production values seemed to just go through the roof.

While many with launch straight into those early Sixties classics – what I love are finally getting to hear two stunning B-sides – her truly beautiful rendition of the Johnny Ace classic "Pledging My Love" doubled with a track called "The Clock" and the fabulous "Lean On Me" (written by Joe Cobb and Van McCoy). Fans have been after these for decades. One of my favourite of her Seventies albums is the forgotten and underrated "Hey Now Hey (The Other Side Of The Sky)" from 1973. How cool is it to see no less than 8 outtakes from its sessions - and for that matter four equally cool tunes from 1972's "Young, Gifted & Black" LP. "Suzanne" (a Leonard Cohen cover) is given an Aretha soulful workout - as is Gene McDaniel's "Tree Of Life". And God is never far from her thoughts – so "Heavenly Father" is filled with emotion as The Sweethearts Of Soul give it in some spirited backing vocals. But proper gorgeous goes to "Can You Love Again" (writer unknown) – what a discovery…


This 2CD out outtakes and rarities set is a triumph – a kind of 'dip in' treasure trove – an embarrassment of riches. Is it any wonder that Jerry Wexler stood in awe as she sang! During those halcyon days in Atlantic Records – it's abundantly obvious that Aretha Franklin was the 'real deal' – the Queen of Soul - proving herself worthy of that crown...over and over again…

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