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ARETHA FRANKLIN: SINGS THE GREAT DIVA CLASSICS (RCA)
It’s her biggest selling album since “Who’s Zooming Who” in 1985, and it’s manna from heaven, a godsend, and a whole lot more. Suffice to say, anything by Aretha Franklin commands attention and great excitement. And although I’m one never to get drawn into the hype frenzy of any release, I did wonder whether Aretha recording a handful of cover versions was a non-starter. However, was I ever wrong! What was I thinking? It’s not simply a selection of cover versions, because after all, this is Aretha Franklin we’re talking about, but a collection re-visited, re-worked and, if you like, totally re-born with the Queen of Soul taking control. She adds the ‘wow’ factor! For instance, check out “Rolling In The Deep”. It’s a monster of a sound; pure brilliance, that, with Aretha at the helm, metamorphoses itself into another landmark song. Or try “I’m Every Woman” with the Aretha touch - a stroke of genius by anyone’s standards. To elevate these two songs, and indeed all the tracks, on to a higher level, Aretha digs deep into her past, pulling on her vast repertoire and experience, to deliver all embracing songs, something which perhaps was missing from the originals.

In her unmistakable way, and let’s fact it, everything about this lady is recognisable, Aretha vocalises with twists and turns, wringing emotion from high octane lyrics, while highlighting some aspects of them which perhaps had previously remained undelivered. Her swing take on “Nothing Compares To U” ,or the fire ignited “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” (a track she also recorded during her Atlantic years) typifies the ease with which she can move through the different genres.

Re-visiting the blues with “Teach me Tonight”, touching on reggae on “No One” and re-inventing “At Last” and “Midnight Train To Georgia”, further bear testament to her innate talent. Y’know, if I was a female singer I’d be really pissed if Aretha Franklin hadn’t covered one of my songs because being one of the Queen’s chosen few must be the hugest of accolades. Welcome back with open arms Ms Franklin! We’ve missed you. Going in again…

Rating 10


About the Writer
Sharon Davis ran the Four Tops fan club before spearheading Motown Ad Astra, catering for all the Motown acts, where she edited the in-house magazine TCB. Was publicist for Fantasy, Stax and Salsoul before joining Motown Records in London. Formed her own press/promotion company Eyes & Ears, worked for Blues & Soul magazine and website, and became a full time author and researcher. To date Sharon has written eleven books (her last A Girl Called Dusty published by Carlton Books) and she’s working on her next - Divas Of Motown. As a researcher, Sharon assisted Diana Ross with her autobiography Secrets Of A Sparrow, and is now in constant demand for her knowledge about Motown and its artists.
  
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