Music Monday: An Aretha Franklin Double

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 51/250

Aretha_Franklin_–_I_Never_Loved_a_Man_the_Way_I_Love_You ArethaFranklinLadySoul
Title: I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
Artist: Aretha Franklin
Year: 1967
Position: #88
Title: Lady Soul
Artist: Aretha Franklin
Year: 1968
Position: #136

I know it’s sacrilegious to say this, but the moment I hear the opening of Aretha Franklin’s version of ‘Respect’ the first thing I think of is the entrance of Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones’ Diary. More seriously, what a way to open your debut album on a new record label, her 10th in total. This cover (originally sung by Otis Redding) still makes a huge impact the moment it comes on, so I can only imagine how it must have sounded back in the 1960’s. In the original context it was about a man feeling he provides his woman with everything so is due ‘respect’ when he comes home, now it  becomes this huge anthem powered by Franklin’s astonishingly powerful voice and some brilliant production.

I first listened to this album 6-7 years ago when I was going through a big Nina Simone phase. I used that as a stepping stone into the world of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and (of course) Aretha Franklin. Actually listening to a full album of Aretha Franklin made me feel a whole lot of respect (pun unintended) for her and and voice. You know how it is when you are younger, if a singer from a time outside your field of listening you have it in your head that you shouldn’t give a damn.

The thing is, I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You (and in a lesser way Lady Soul) feel utterly of the moment. Time has not taken away much from these albums, in fact with the explosion of Adele a few years ago it has, if anything, it has given them a renewed strength. I mean, who are we kidding, there is a reason people look up to the soul singers of the 60s. Tracks like ‘Soul Serenade’, ‘Chain of Fools’ and  Carol King’s ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’ all stand up to modern scrutiny. Even if, at times, some of the production can feel just a tiny bit dated, not too much, just a smidge.

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