December 2nd, 2011
Artist: Aretha Franklin
Label: Sony Legacy
Format: 12-CD Box Set
Release date: March 22, 2011
Before she was the “Queen of Soul” churning out hits at Atlantic Records, Aretha Franklin was an up and coming artist recording jazz standards and pop songs for Columbia. From 1960 to 1965 she recorded seven albums for Columbia, compiled here in an eleven CD set, complete with a DVD of her 1964 appearances on the Steve Allen show, a bonus CD of rarities, and two additional CDs of her collaborations with producers Bobby Scott (in 1963) and Clyde Otis (in 1964). The lavishly illustrated booklet includes an article by Princeton University professor Daphne A. Brooks outlining the beginning of Franklin’s career. While her years at Columbia are often ignored or at the very least unappreciated, early glimpses of the power and finesse that would come to define her career can be found in this collection.
Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington is one of the particularly noteworthy albums of this set, featuring moving renditions of “Unforgettable” and “This Bitter Earth” in which Aretha echoes the emotion and clarity of Washington while distinctly making it her own. The gospel choir-cultivated warmth and control that shines on tunes like “Soulville” are also present in her earliest recordings. Franklin’s Columbia debut Aretha: with the Ray Bryant Combo showcases a very young Franklin intelligently performing “Are You Sure” and “Love is the Only Thing,” effectively embracing stylistic nuances in the music while always retaining her matchless sound.
Following is the official promo video:
No matter the song or genre, Aretha is always Aretha. Take a Look presents a lesser-known yet sparkling facet of this timeless artist.
Reviewed by Raynetta Wiggins