Music Reviews

Album Review: Aretha Franklin – ‘Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul’

By Jeff Swindoll Oct 31, 2007, 16:49 GMT

Album Review: Aretha Franklin – ‘Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul’

Nearly every music legend leaves behind a slew of unreleased songs, alternate takes of released tunes, and live and demo material. To collectors, such detritus from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and others is manna from heaven. Aretha Franklin\'s first six years with Atlantic Records generated its own sheaf of unreleased songs and rarities, lovingly compiled into a chronological two-CD collection. Raw 1966 demos of her first Atlantic ...more

Aretha Franklin is the queen and never has a performer earned such a title as she has.  Her vocals have power even if they’re considered outtakes or demos.  So you may have been expecting something less with these tracks, but you’d be mistaken. 

Some of these have been released (on other Rhino releases as bonuses if I’m not mistaken) but the majority of them haven’t been on disc before.  So only five of the thirty-five tracks have appeared on other discs.

There are some occasional coughs or studio talk, but the tracks are excellent when Aretha starts to perform.  Outtakes from several albums are represented (‘Aretha Arrives,’ ‘Aretha Now,’ ‘Soul ’69,’ ‘Spirit in the Dark,’ etc.) on disc one, but the real treasure comes on disc two where Aretha sits down and performs with the legendary Ray Charles.

One funny bit comes when Aretha starts singing (really rather well) and then stops and asks if they’re recording it.  She starts over again with the same intensity and continues on making a damn fine song. 

Like two discs of unearth treasures, these discs represent Aretha’s golden age and they’re surely gold for the listener as well as the collector.  She’s the queen, what more can be said?

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