The second incarnation of my blog
Based on the top 100 albums in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500, I have set myself the challenge of hearing and appraising each album. I hope to be surprised and educated along the way.
At number 85 is Aretha Franklin, who by pure chance will also appear at number 84. The first of the two albums is the 1968 release Lady Soul which was her 13th long player.
We kick off with Chain of fools, a perfect upbeat song to highlight her powerful vocals and accompanied by Gospel/R&B singer Cissy Houston and her group the Sweet Inspirations.
You can’t fault her singing on the first few songs including the civil-rights anthem People get ready, which are all excellent… but then you get to a true standard. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, was written for her by the great Gerry Goffin and Carole King. This is a sublime 2 minutes and 47 seconds; a finely crafted song, arranged and performed perfectly.
The music maintains its high standard and the final two tracks slow the action down. Both Groovin’ and Ain’t no way are bluesy laid back songs. A clever way to end the album after a few powerful soul performances.
The tracks are concise and never overstay their welcome. With songs that suit her voice, a solid band, guests such as Bobby Womack and produced by Jerry Wexler (who coined the phrase “rhythm and blues”), you can’t really go wrong. For a lesson in said rhythm and blues, you should listen to Lady Soul.
My rating: 7/10
Standout track: (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Chain of fools
Listen to the album via Spotify here.
See the Top 100 here.