#117 Aretha Franklin – Aretha: Lady Soul

Aretha: Lady Soul continues Aretha Franklin‘s stream of success in the late 60s. As I stated previously, I was never a fan of her singing. She screams too much, but her album I Never Loved a Man the Way That I Love You proved that she has some really good songs with soul and voice.

I can relate to “Chain of Fools“. I felt like I was growing up around a Confederacy of Dunces as a child. I could not wait to escape my family and my “friends” who surrounded me like a cloud of nincompoops begging for whatever I had to give and giving nothing in return. I know you should not want in return when you give and that is exactly what I got.

Franklin covers a Curtis Mayfield tune from 1965 “People Get Ready“. Franklin sticks to the gospel-fueled version meaning she screams too much. Everybody has covered this song so there are many versions to choose from, but I prefer the Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck version. Beck knows how to make his guitar sing with Stewart’s soulful voice.

Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck tell People Get Ready.

I remembered that my mother listened to and liked Franklin, especially when I heard the song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman“. This song is one of the most overrated songs ever written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Women are always talking about being independent and not needing a man, yet King and Franklin were creating music with the opposite message…

“Looking out on the morning rain
I used to feel so uninspired
And when I knew I had to face another day
Lord, it made me feel so tired
Before the day I met you, life was so unkind
But your the key to my peace of mind
‘Cause you make me feel
You make me feel
You make me feel like
A natural woman (woman)”.

This is about a women who needs a man to make her happy. She sounds exactly like my mother. It is not a wonder that she loved this song. She more than anyone I have ever met needed a man to be happy and to be sad. The men she loved, loved to hit her. And hit me. Such a shit song. We should burn it and ban it.

Franklin does more of her signature owl screeches on this album then I would have liked. I wished for more of her slow songs like The Young Rascal’s “Groovin” and “Ain’t No Way” the two last songs on the whole album. She does a great job on turning ‘Groovin” into a soul song. “Ain’t No Way” is a haunting love song written by Franklin’s sister. The background operatic singing is none other than Whitney Houston’s mom Cissy Houston.

This album fails to capture the sound I prefer from Franklin. This is the sound that made her famous, but I prefer the slow songs of which there are only two at the very end of the album. It I want over-singing, then I will turn on the far superior Patti Labelle. 6.5/10.

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