Friday, May 26, 2017

Aretha Franklin – rolling on into deep (water)!

Album Review: Aretha Franklin - The Great Diva ClassicsThe excitement of Aretha Franklin being back with Clive Davis after departing Artista Records back in 2003 with her album, ‘So Damm Happy’… The Queen of Soul went down the independent route for her next two albums, which included the 2008 released ‘This Christmas’ . So how do you put the Queen Of Soul back on her throne?
Aretha‘s last #1 was in 1998 with the, “A Rose Is Still A Rose” set which featured Lauren Hill on the title cut. Aretha is no stranger to having hit covers, ‘I Say A Little Pray’, ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Respect’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, ‘Spanish Harlem’ and even recorded ‘Let It Be’ before The Beatles did themselves. So what’s up in 2014? Club/Dance music has not changed for the better, Soul music is still not as popular as it once was, due to most Radio Stations in America still programming Hip-Hop/Rap. Sam Cooke once said a change is gonna come. Well, this year has been more positive though for Soul music with the likes of John Legend, Ron Isley and Kem still having big sellers in America. With the trend for established artists to score in the national charts being either with duet albums or covers, but this kinda of branding does get into the supermarkets and can be purchased with the week’s food shopping!!! Aretha‘s first single from her new ‘Sings The Great Diva Classics’ album (with production work from Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds and Outkast‘s Andre 3000) is a well done cover of the Adele song ‘Rolling In The Deep’, and it certainly looks like it will be a huge success for the Queen Of Soul. But whenever comin’ to the rest of the album, did we really need a whole set of covers? Every or most Aretha album since her first in 1961 has always featured a cover or two & most chosen as the hit single. Meanwhile on this new album, we are brought to a new version of the now karaoke classic ‘I Will Survive’ (although a good song at the time), with Diana Ross and Gladys Knight havin’ already covered and released it years ago, so did we need another??? ‘Midnight Train To Georgia’ first a hit for Cissy Houston & another classic out of the Gladys Knight song book ‘At Last’, ‘People’ which is currently in a duet form on the latest Barbara Streisand album with Stevie Wonder, but let’s face it: it was a hit first for Streisand.
It’s very sad when there are countless songs we would have loved the Queen Of Soul to cover, yet the choice here is just so run of the mill. In my opinion stick to buying the single and go back into your collection & dig out her better albums like ‘Lady Soul’, ‘Soul 69’, ‘I Never Loved A Man’, etc… We just hope the next album will be an outstanding collection of songs, now how great would that be with Stevie Wonder producing it!

Gary Van den Bussche (Disco, Soul, Gold)

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