Aretha's forgotten gem! If you're looking for hit singles, forget it - it's just Aretha with a stellar cast of musicians, turning her mighty talents to jazz standards, to the blues and lending her own inimitable voice to a few pop tunes too.
There's a rollicking big band version of Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me", and a haunting take on "Tracks of My Tear". If you think Smokey's version can't be bettered, just listen to this! Those 60s country-folk tunes "Elusive Butterfly" and "Gentle on My Mind" get the full-on soul treatment, with congas, flashing Fender Rhodes chords from Joe Zawinul and, of course, the girls chirping away merrily in the background.
But 2 tracks in particular stand out as a reminder that, when Aretha's firing on all cylinders, the sheer intensity and feeling in her voice can reduce you to a trembling wreck. Aretha takes James Ray's song of love betrayed,"If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody", to new heights, as she pleads "Tell me why, why did you have to hurt me?". "I'll Never Be Free" is about that one love in your life which remains, burning in your soul, long after you've gone your separate ways ("Each time I hold somebody new, My arms grow cold, thinking of you"). And when Aretha sings it, you know she's lived it.
Quite simply, this album is Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, at her very best - and then some!