Aretha Franklin in the 1970s-Search & Destroy

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Since Arif Mardin died, I’ve been listening to the albums Spirit In The Dark & Young, Gifted And Black, which he produced with Wexler & Dowd. Spirit’s one of my all-time favorite albums. I mean, the title song, “Why I Sing The Blues”, “Try Matty’s”, “When The Battle Is Over” “Pullin’”! How can you argue with this stuff? To me, YGAB isn’t as good, but it’s still excellent nonetheless. How can you go wrong with originals like “Day Dreaming”, “First Snow In Kokomo” and “Rock Steady”? I’ve also heard the fillmore album, which is terrific, and This Girl’s In Love With You looks intriguing. Her disco –oriented lps from the late 70s are all OOP.

It seems like this entire era of Aretha is kinda neglected in favor of her early Atlantic work (Oldies radio around here thinks she’s done nothing since “Chain of Fools”). Got any recommendations?

Chairman Doinel (Charles McCain), Thursday, 6 July 2006 19:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

The Fillmore album has just been reissued as a 2CD set. Get it.

pdf (Phil Freeman), Thursday, 6 July 2006 20:06 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Young, Gifted & Black shows up on many an Aretha all-time best; it would be on mine, simply for "Rock Steady," the title track, "Daydreaming," and "First Snow in Kokomo."

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Thursday, 6 July 2006 20:23 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"Until You Come Back to Me" is fantastic.

JoB (JoB), Thursday, 6 July 2006 20:29 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Her first gospel album, Amazing Grace, has been remastered with a bonus disc, etc. It's worth it for the astonishing "Wholly Holy" alone (written by Marvin Gaye, only peaked at #48 R&B and didn't chart pop at all). This is serious.

Also: her last #1 (R&B) single of the '70s, "Break It to Me Gently," is breathtaking. It's right up there with "Call Me" and "Angel" (and "Wholly Holy," natch) as my favorite Aretha singles from the '70s - a very good decade for her, musically. I prefer her '70s to her '60s.

Thomas Inskeep (submeat), Thursday, 6 July 2006 21:59 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Aretha was good in the '70s - the EARLY '70s. The disco years weren't too kind to older soul singers and Aretha sure as hell wasn't an exception.

Aretha was on some kind of roll there, around 1970-73. It sounded like was influenced by the progressive soul of labelmate Donny Hathaway. She was playing piano more, and alternately going back to her gospel roots and experimenting at the same time. On the YOUNG, GIFTED & BLACK album, it sounds like she's biting off more than she could chew (Roberta Flack, she was not), but some of the singles during this era were sterling - "Rock Steady" (b/w "Oh Me Oh My [I'm A Fool For You Baby]"), "Spirit In The Dark," "Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)," even "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

Rev. Hoodoo (Rev. Hoodoo), Friday, 7 July 2006 02:40 (twelve years ago) Permalink

The day I found out Aretha did an album with Curtis Mayfield writing and producing was like some sort of mini-Christmas. Sparkle is so ridiculously good. The fact that it's from '76, amidst a string of some fairly mediocre records, might be why it's so comparatively obscure.

nate p. (natepatrin), Friday, 7 July 2006 14:09 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Aretha was on some kind of roll there, around 1970-73. It sounded like was influenced by the progressive soul of labelmate Donny Hathaway. She was playing piano more, and alternately going back to her gospel roots and experimenting at the same time.

Very true. She was also influenced by the singer-songwriters (Carole King and Joni Mitchell in particular), which lead her to start composing more tracks.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 7 July 2006 14:13 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Amazing Grace still gets me good.

Hoosteen (Hoosteen), Sunday, 9 July 2006 20:29 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"Oh Me Oh My" is one of my all-time favorite recordings. The way she hoots over the final refrain sends chills down me every time.

On the other hand, if we can extend into the pre-comeback '80s, her cover of "What a Fool Believes" from ('81?) is one of my all-time least favorites.

Joseph McCombs (Joseph McCombs), Monday, 10 July 2006 04:57 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I still can't hear "Until You Come Back To Me..." without flashing back to the first grade. You NEVER hear it on oldies shows now, but it seemed like in the fall of '73 (and for a long time thereafter), that song was ALL OVER the airwaves, even 3-4 years after it dropped off the charts.

This was also back when anything Stevie Wonder wrote was a guaranteed runaway hit (Aretha's "Until You Come Back...," B.B. King's "To Know You Is To Love You," Rufus'"Tell Me Something Good").

Rev. Hoodoo (Rev. Hoodoo), Monday, 10 July 2006 10:33 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"spirit" is the finest of all aretha records. yeah, her first atlantic album is also great, but "spirit" seems the fulfillment of her talent, and she actually sort of sounds relaxed, laid back, on it.

there are 2 volumes of "atlantic unearthed" stuff out right now, on rhino. the "soul sisters" volume leads off with an amazing outtake from "spirit," aretha backed by the dixie flyers. doing "my way." magnificently--it's on a par with sly doing "que sera sera." worth getting, as is the "soul brothers" disc.

edd s hurt (ddduncan), Monday, 10 July 2006 18:29 (twelve years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Rhino to release rarities comp in October

Among the goodies are covers of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and "Suzanne".

C. Grisso/McCain, Friday, 21 September 2007 17:12 (eleven years ago) Permalink

And I thought she was the only singer ever not to sing "Suzanne."

James Redd and the Blecchs, Friday, 21 September 2007 17:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Rhino Handmade to issue unreleased live show from '72

C. Grisso/McCain, Saturday, 6 October 2007 14:35 (eleven years ago) Permalink

eleven months pass...

Spirit in the Dark, people. Her version of "The Thrill is Gone" may surpass B.B. King's. Yup.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Thursday, 11 September 2008 00:37 (ten years ago) Permalink

NOTHING IS FUCKING WITH, EVER HAS FUCKED WITH, OR EVER WILL FUCK WITH "Day Dreaming"

The Referee (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 September 2008 05:57 (ten years ago) Permalink

six months pass...

came to this thread to make a milder assertion of ^^^

goodbye pork pie scarf (The Reverend), Monday, 23 March 2009 06:38 (nine years ago) Permalink

anyone heard that late 70s album produced by curtis? saw it in a 2nd hand shop at the weekend but wasnt sure whether to get it or not.

Yellow Carded (titchyschneiderMk2), Monday, 23 March 2009 11:15 (nine years ago) Permalink

NOTHING IS FUCKING WITH, EVER HAS FUCKED WITH, OR EVER WILL FUCK WITH "Day Dreaming"

^^^^^truth.

the long spirit in the dark w.ray charles on live at fillmore is GODHEAD too. and spanish harlem (was that 70s?)

Darramouss Darramouss will he do the fandango? (stevie), Monday, 23 March 2009 14:22 (nine years ago) Permalink

six years pass...
one month passes...

The Atlantic Albums Collection coming from Rhino/Atlantic November 13. Includes the following:

I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
Aretha Arrives
Lady Soul
Aretha Now
Aretha In Paris
Soul '69
I Say A Little Prayer
This Girl's In Love With You
Spirit In The Dark
Don't Play That Song
Live At Fillmore West
(deluxe 2CD edition)
Amazing Grace
Young, Gifted & Black
Hey Now Hey: The Other Side Of The Sky
Let Me In Your Life
Sparkle
Oh Me Oh My: Aretha Live In Philly, 1972

and a 2CD compilation of rarities, outtakes, etc.

Does not include With Everything I Feel In Me, You, Sweet Passion, Almighty Fire, or La Diva.

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Sunday, 11 October 2015 19:34 (three years ago) Permalink

...or, the 'albums nobody cares about'.

Kind of odd, since a couple of those fit within the chronology of the selections.

Love, Wilco (C. Grisso/McCain), Sunday, 11 October 2015 19:56 (three years ago) Permalink

I'm sure their omission isn't gonna spark some huge outcry, but it would have been interesting to hear them.

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Sunday, 11 October 2015 20:07 (three years ago) Permalink

I'd love to hear those albums, particularly how Disco Aretha sounds.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 11 October 2015 20:32 (three years ago) Permalink

...or, the 'albums nobody cares about'.

i think aretha has embargoed those albums, because as i recall none have ever been available in north america on CD.

the first ("with everything...") is not bad, "almighty fire" has its moments; the others are definitely embarrassing to different degrees. the fact that, despite their rarity and the high profile of A.F., they haven't really been the object of even a minor cult suggests that, yes, they are pretty marginal.*

* that said, i just bet the dusty groove description of each says something like "another great, groovy album by aretha, with some soulful vocals and funky tracks."

wizzz! (amateurist), Sunday, 11 October 2015 22:07 (three years ago) Permalink

They're easily found in used record stores too, but I tend to forget.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 11 October 2015 22:15 (three years ago) Permalink

Apparently they all came out on CD in Europe in the last few years; some outfit from Estonia is selling copies of all five. The CD of La Diva even has bonus tracks (including the aforementioned version of "What a Fool Believes"). They're all attributed to Warner Music EU and have bar codes and everything, so I have the feeling they're legit. But I don't care enough to pay $20 each plus shipping.

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Sunday, 11 October 2015 23:21 (three years ago) Permalink

On eBay, btw.

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Sunday, 11 October 2015 23:21 (three years ago) Permalink

The idea of Aretha going disco is attractive.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 11 October 2015 23:31 (three years ago) Permalink

some outfit from Estonia

sounds legit

wizzz! (amateurist), Monday, 12 October 2015 02:13 (three years ago) Permalink

lol, here are the actual dusty groove "reviews":

You:

A great little record from Aretha – and on that always seems to get overlooked! The album's arranged by Gene Page, and it's got a sweet slightly funky electric side that opens up a whole new side of Aretha's style.

Almighty Fire:

Killer late 70s work from Aretha Franklin – and a set that features production by Curtis Mayfield, in a style that's quite similar to his work with the lady on the Sparkle soundtrack! Aretha somehow sounds deeper here in Curtis' company than on some of her other 70s recordings – and there's a definite Curtom bent to the entire production, given that Rich Tufo handles all the arrangements, and backings feature instrumentation from both him and Mayfield. The album's nicely restrained at most points – never reaching too far to fall into cliche – and Franklin's vocals are as great as ever.

Sweet Passion:

One of Aretha's sadly overlooked 70s gems – a great little session produced by Lamont Dozier, with a mix of smooth soul, driving rhythms, and just the right amount of rough edges to keep things real, very much in the tone of Lamont's own strong work for the ABC label at the same time.

With Everything...:

Mellow sexy Aretha – with warm arrangements by Arif Mardin, and plenty of nice electric piano by the great Richard Tee.

wizzz! (amateurist), Monday, 12 October 2015 02:17 (three years ago) Permalink

i mean, fair enough, but i sometimes wonder what it would take for D.G. to just admit, "We can't lie, this record is /famous soul singer/ way past his prime, and it kind of sucks."

wizzz! (amateurist), Monday, 12 October 2015 02:18 (three years ago) Permalink

Just realized that--unless they've been added to one of the albums--this will probably be missing some non-Lp singles like "The House That Jack Built", "Spanish Harlem", "You're All I Need To Get By", and "Bridge Over Troubled Water".

Love, Wilco (C. Grisso/McCain), Monday, 12 October 2015 03:03 (three years ago) Permalink

There's a 2CD rarities comp included—I'm sure those will be on there.

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Monday, 12 October 2015 12:08 (three years ago) Permalink

including the aforementioned version of "What a Fool Believes"

I remember this as being pretty great.

Mark G, Monday, 12 October 2015 14:48 (three years ago) Permalink

I really like it, though it doesn't trump the original.

please don't shampoo your eyes (stevie), Monday, 12 October 2015 14:56 (three years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

Good piece! So glad he concentrated on her piano.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 20 May 2018 19:15 (six months ago) Permalink

Spirit and Young, Gifted, and Black are two of my favorites of hers, and don’t get nearly the attention they deserve.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Sunday, 20 May 2018 19:24 (six months ago) Permalink

Let Me In Your Life was really striking, w variety unified by dynamics, detail, atmosphere: title track by Bill Withers, incl. the suddenly quiet, dead-on bridge before the resurge---will she scare him away? "Every Natural Thing" by Eddie Hinton, couple originals, with "If You Don't Think" especially appealing, rhythmically suave and flirtatious (confident!) xpost "Til You Come Back To Me" by Stevie (and others), country soul "With Pen In Hand," rocking 60s Aretha "Eight Days On The Road," rippling, hovering "A Song For You"(prob. overrecorded, but her version is the keeper)---smoking the 70s with Cornell Dupree, Pretty Purdie, Deodato, Donnie Hathaway, Joe Farrell, many others,

dow, Sunday, 20 May 2018 19:53 (six months ago) Permalink

xgau's take, from Rock Records of the 70s or whatever:


Aretha Franklin: Let Me in Your Life [Atlantic, 1974]
Welcome Tom and Jerry (Dowd and Wexler) back--this isn't great Aretha, but it rocks steady even on the ballads. If she doesn't get away with "The Masquerade Is Over," she does renew "A Song for You" with a fresh electric piano part and a good helping of indiscreet interpretation. Guided indiscretion, that's the key--her great gift is her voice, but her genius is her bad taste. B+
Fuck the grade, but he's not entirely wrong, like does justify "What A Fool Believes" and a number of other kitschy choices over the years.

dow, Sunday, 20 May 2018 19:58 (six months ago) Permalink

Young, Gifted & Black is an astonishing album. Daydreaming! All The Kings Horses!

Lou Grant, the Iranian cinema of late '70s TV (stevie), Sunday, 20 May 2018 19:59 (six months ago) Permalink

oooh I haven't heard "If You Don't Think" in ages

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 20 May 2018 20:14 (six months ago) Permalink

Young, Gifted & Black, Spirit In The Dark and Sparkle are the only 70s albums I have of hers. They're all fantastic. I need to check out some of the others.

kitchen person, Sunday, 20 May 2018 20:21 (six months ago) Permalink

Young, Gifted & Black is an astonishing album. Daydreaming! All The Kings Horses!


“Daydreaming” is all-time. And “First Snow In Kokomo” so completely riveting.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Sunday, 20 May 2018 20:32 (six months ago) Permalink

Spirit in the Dark is one of my 50 favorite albums.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 20 May 2018 20:38 (six months ago) Permalink

I've gotten really into "the albums nobody cares about" recently, particularly You and Almighty Fire.

Johnny Fever, Sunday, 20 May 2018 20:44 (six months ago) Permalink

three months pass...

idk how i've lived my life so long without memorizing every second of sparkle. it's almost too good--i have to shield my eyes.

ant banks and wasp (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 21 August 2018 17:34 (three months ago) Permalink

i recently discovered a friend shot the cover photo of Spirit In The Dark!

He has since photographed me... quite a plummet.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 21 August 2018 18:51 (three months ago) Permalink

Until You Come Back To Me is perfect.

Arthur Funzonerelli (stevie), Tuesday, 21 August 2018 19:19 (three months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Only vaguely knew the song It Ain't Fair until recently and never knew that was Duane Allman on guitar. That track smokes.

Fedora Dostoyevsky (man alive), Friday, 14 September 2018 15:10 (three months ago) Permalink

i recently discovered a friend shot the cover photo of Spirit In The Dark!

I always like that guy’s posts on social media.

St Etienne Is Real (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 15 September 2018 11:37 (three months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

This is finally happening, for real this time:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/05/business/media/aretha-franklin-amazing-grace-film.html

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Monday, 5 November 2018 20:36 (one month ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

sick burn

Congratulations to Sydney Pollack finally directing a great movie.

— Peter Labuza (@labuzamovies) November 27, 2018

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 29 November 2018 01:04 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Ha. It’s showing in NYC now?

curmudgeon, Friday, 30 November 2018 20:48 (two weeks ago) Permalink

in a week

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 30 November 2018 21:05 (two weeks ago) Permalink

And only for a week:

https://filmforum.org/film/amazing-grace

Aaron Cohen, author of the essential 33 1/3rd book on Amazing Grace, will give an introduction at the December 8 8:00pm showing (which is sold out).

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 30 November 2018 21:39 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I saw Cohen talk about Curtis Mayfield once. He’s worth listening to.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 1 December 2018 15:57 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Has anyone else seen Amazing Grace?. It is exhilarating.
I can also confirm that the aforementioned Aaron Cohen is a standup person and also a skilled musical historian/educator.

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Monday, 3 December 2018 23:00 (two weeks ago) Permalink


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