Thursday, 16 August 2018

Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man They Way I Love You (1967)

I'm about to give you all of my money....


Released March 1967

Recorded at Muscle Shoals, Alabama and New York City

Aretha Louise Franklin passed away today - 16th August 2018. I dug this album out in my way of trying to sum up her incredible talent and voice in one album. There is something so fundamentally pure about the soul on this album, her first on Atlantic Records.


1. Respect
2. Drown In My Own Tears
3. I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)
4. Soul Serenade
5. Don't Let Me Lose This Dream
6. Baby, Baby, Baby
7. Dr. Feelgood
8. Good Times
9. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man
10. Save Me
11. A Change Is Gonna Come                                  

The sound on the album is a glorious, speaker-shaking mono. Just listen to that crystal clear sound come punching right out of the middle of your stereo system. It is as pure as the driven snow, sonically. Kicking off is the horn intro to Respect that we all know so well and the thumping "my man gone done me wrong" anthem, with its "take out TCP" or "take care TCB" lyric, which I have never either understood or known what it was. Drown In My Own Tears is a piano-driven ballad with a yearning, powerful churchy vocal. I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You suffers from a tiny bit of hiss at the beginning, but I'm not really going to worry too much about that, am I? Soul Serenade features some kick-posterior horns and a great bassy, deep sound and, of course, another killer vocal. Don't Let Me Lose This Dream has a groovy sort of Look Of Love/Burt Bacharach rhythm to it and hints of Say A Little Prayer here and there.

This is a truly great soul album. There were not too many at this time, in many ways, because so many of the groups were singles oriented. Otis Redding put out some good ones and the early Gladys Knight albums on Motown are well worth checking out. Many however, featured the hit singles and then some cabaret-style easy listening cover versions. None of that here. No Sir. Just listen to Baby, Baby, Baby - gospelly, strong-voiced soul of the highest order. Dr. Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business) is just soul heaven, brother. Lordy is it just. Swirling organ, solid drums, heavenly horns and Aretha's voice taking the listener to soul Heaven. "I'll tell you girls...but I just don't have time...I don't need no doctor, giving me all those pills..." sings Aretha, in praising her Dr. Feelgood.

You think loved-up Aretha is too busy with Dr. Feelgood to give you some more? Think again. The way she attacks Sam Cooke's Good Times is positively life-affirming. The band behind her too, they just cook at the highest level possible. Can you believe Rolling Stone wrote this about the album at the time -

".....the lack of versatility on the part of the sidemen. The drums weren't hard enough, the guitar was weak, and the production lacked polish...."

Are you kidding me? Come on! The band's sound is truly superb. The drums are incredibly punchy.

That When A Man Loves A Woman church organ bit hails the start of the monstrously good Do Right Woman - Do Right Man, while Save Me uses that Gloria riff to great effect and Aretha's vocal soars with those horns. Aretha's version of the Civil Rights anthem Change Is Gonna Come is my own personal favourite version of the iconic song. This was a great album from a legendary singer.

“People get ready
There’s a train coming
You don’t need no ticket
Just get on board….”.

August 16 2018 - Aretha Franklin got on board the train to glory today. RIP.