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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rave review of a litle known album by the Queen of Soul, 12 July 2001
This review is from: Soul '69 (Audio CD)
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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost fantastic, 14 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Soul '69 (Audio CD)
This album is nearly an amazing album but doesn't quite make it. Rather than the classic Muscle Shoals musicians Aretha teamed up with on her previous hit soul albums for Atlantic here she is teamed up with a selection of jazz musicians. These include: Joe Zawinul, Ron Carter and various horn men who have appeared with the Basie Band.

On the plus side you get some storming big band versions of Ramblin, Rivers invitation and Bring it on home to me. The arrangements are great and never overwhelm Aretha's voice. You also get some soulful ballads in Today I sing the blues, So long and I'll never be free that allow Aretha to shine.

On the negative side you get some soul pop on Gentle on my mind and Elusive butterfly and also overall a few to many ballads. The're ok but dilute the strength of the album. On the truly negative side you get an absolutely attrocious cover of Tracks of my tears that is so chessy it left me having nightmares for weeks afterwards.

This album could have been a classic if they had been more rigorous in the direction they were going - a big band album. Maybe they were worried they would alienate Aretha's soul or pop following so watered it down. It's a shame as a few omissions and a few inspired replacements (why not Ray Charles guesting in a more formal capacity than he did on Aretha's Filmore album) would have made this an absolute classic.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not strictly Soul, but still a gem, 26 Nov. 2007
Andy Edwards "staxasoul" (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Soul '69 (Audio CD)
Aretha's collaboration with Jerry Wexler came about because, despite an obvious talent, her Record label, Columbia, had failed to ignite the fire within her, having pigeon -holed as a Jazz singer. Wexler gave her an edge, and that produced the groundbreaking "Never Loved a Man" album.

Ironic, then , that 5 albums later, Wexler took her back to Jazz, but this time with the R&B edge that allowed Aretha room to swoop and soar around the melody in her inimitable style. Soul 69 is, then, something of a misnomer, but don't let that put you off.

Starting with a big band rendition of Ramblin', it is clear that this will be an Aretha album with a difference. "River's Invitation" and "Crazy..." are notable for Kenny Burrell's guitar, and "Tracks of my Tears" and "Gentle on my Mind" both swing along in a way that neither Smokey nor Glenn Cambell could have envisaged.

For me, the stand out tracks are "Today I Sing the Blues" and "I'll Never Be Free", both aching with loss, made more poignant because Aretha was enduring troubled times, her marriage to Ted White close to breakdown.

Soul 69 is not an archetypal Aretha album, with it's big band styling, but get past that and you can hear the Queen of Soul in her usual vocal form. This is one to be savoured over time and you will come to appreciate it's place in the hearts of Aretha devotees.
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Soul '69
Soul '69 by Aretha Franklin (Audio CD - 1994)
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