Thursday, June 30, 2011

June's Overlooked Music: Aretha Franklin's soul recordings for CBS, before she went to Atlantic

CBS famously attempted to make Aretha Franklin, young gospel powerhouse going secular, into the New Dinah Washington...which was a remarkably stupid idea, even though Franklin could do the Washington-style repertoire impressively...but she did her end of what Ray Charles and not too many others were doing even better yet. People think that she didn't do anything truly of herself before quitting CBS for Atlantic, and recording the likes of "Chain of Fools" and "Respect"...these below, with the exception of "Take It Like You Give It," aren't quite up to the best of her Atlantic records, but had CBS more of a clue, she by evidence of these records might've been blowing the doors off in the early '60s even as she would in the latter '60s...

Aretha Franklin's "Soulville":

And Franklin doing one of those songs that, in a close paraphrase of Joanna Russ, only a woman could record, because men know better about us (Buffy Sainte-Marie was even more ridiculous with "He's a Keeper of the Fire")..."Lee Cross":

Franklin's cover of "Mockingbird":

Franklin's pleasant, if a bit mild, cover of Hays and Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer":

And you can hear a scrap here of the very short, very great "Take It Like You Give It," probably Franklin's best single recording for CBS and fully the equal of anything she recorded for Atlantic or anyone else (and a fragment of the not too shabby "A Little Bit of Soul," too). (Here's a clunky MySpace page where you can, with some effort, hear the entirety of both songs.)

The Zombies couldn't resist "Soulville," but they probably should've...

Please see Scott Parker's blog for the list of the Usual Suspects in the monthly music roundelay...

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