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Respect: Aretha's Influences And Inspiration CD
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* All great artists have their influences and inspiration. Aretha Franklin, named very recently as the Greatest Singer of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine, is no exception.
* Her fans will be familiar with the songs on this collection, but maybe not these versions. Spanning the years 1948-1972, highlights include `Try A Little Tenderness' by the influential Little Miss Cornshucks, `Drown In My Own Tears' by Aretha's hero Ray Charles, Helen Humes' original of `Today I Sing The Blues' and `Sit Down And Cry' by unsung soul heroine Jean Wells.
* Comprising originals of songs made famous by the "Queen of Soul" during her first two decades as a recording artist, or in some cases the versions she grew up loving, the two-dozen R&B, soul and gospel recordings here, many of them performed by her favourite artists, helped influence and inspire Aretha to become the great singer she is.
* Compiled and annotated by Mick Patrick and Malcolm Baumgart.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Most of the songs were already recorded by other artists so it was relatively easy to get originals - I am not so convinced about inclusion of Little Miss Cornshucks 1952. version of "Try a little tenderness" because this is an old jazz standard that goes way back to Bing Crosby in his 1930s radio days and we can never know for sure was Franklin fan Cornshucks or simply heard popular Crosby version. But for the most of the part of this CD artists make perfect sense since they really visited these songs before Franklin herself did - besides some of expected names like Ray Charles and Otis Redding,the biggest surprise here are those who somehow got little forgotten,so obscure names like Thelma Jones who did "The house that Jack built" or jazz singer Helen Humes who had 1940s hit "Today I sing the blues" come as the main course and naturally comparisons with later versions are inevitable.
Most of the times Franklinised versions are superior but occasionally (like in The house that Jack built") she didn't really change much and some songs are simply strong the way they were from the start. Since I am already familiar with Queen's recordings and most of the 1960s output,my main interest here were 1940s and 1950s recordings (Percy Mayfield,Johnny Ace,Big Maybelle) that would eventually shape classic soul sound.
The best of all might be inclusion of "Soulville" that young Aretha Franklin recorded on her tribute to Dinah Washington - it is strong,uptempo gospel shouter (link between secular and religious music) but since I wasn't familiar with Washington original,it always bothered me why it was recorded on an album full of ballads - here,finally is Washington original and it's a blast,tantalizing glimpse of soul music Washington would make had she not died so early.
And no Sam Cooke? I always thought he was crucial into convincing young gospel singer to follow his steps and cross over to pop. After all,she did cover his "You saved me". But he is so well known that it's better to have lesser names instead.
CD ends as it fits,with great gospel singer Clara Ward who was Franklin's house friend and perhaps greatest inspiration - late Ward was big star in her time but might have been forgotten had Franklin not continued to remind the world that she was always inspired by her singing.
With or without Franklin connection,this is a very good collection of several generations of afro-american artists and quite fascinating anthology of early soul music.