In this here today, gone today music industry of 2003, many people in their 20s and 30s probably look at Aretha Franklin as a singer who has been coasting the fame train on her hit Respect and not much more. Some probably even look at her as the Whitney, Mariah, Beyounce or Ashanti of her day. That would be wrong because Aretha is in a class by herself. During her artistic pinnacle in the 60s and 70s (an era of great rock/pop/soul music), few could top Franklin.
This CD is an excellent place to start for the greatness of Aretha. With the songs I'll Never Love A Man, Ain't No Way, Since You've Been Gone and others, Franklin's sullen phrasing evokes a woman in the throes of an anguished relationship. Although such themes are prevalent today, few singers wrench as much emotion out of their material. Aretha also takes material made famous by other artists and remakes them into her own. Of course in addition to Otis Redding's Respect, there is I Say A Little Prayer, Stevie Wonder's Until You Come Back to Me and Simon/Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water. You will hit the repeat button for Don't Play That Song, a foot stomping, hand clapping remake of the old Ben E. King hit.
Although she is justifiably known for her singing and phrasing, Franklin was/is also an underrated piano player and songwriter. Check out Call Me, Spirit In The Dark and Day Dreaming. I wish today's young singers would look to Aretha's early material and take note. All the tracks on this double CD are winners.