Aretha Franklin is musical royalty. She has songs that everyone knows, regardless of age, or interest in music in general. Respect, Chain of Fools and I Say a Little Prayer are tunes that will more than likely live on forever. But outside of the massive hits, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a single other Aretha Franklin song. At the very least, I’ve never consciously chosen to listen to a single other Aretha Franklin song. But surely, she’s bigger and better than those few hits. Which is something I’m hoping to find out with Aretha Arrives.
Opening with a soul interpretation of the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction, the first thing I realise about this period is the attitude towards cover songs. Nowadays, when someone covers an already famous song, it’s seen as a gimmick at best. Remember when Alien Ant Farm did Smooth Criminal with guitars? They’re the kinds of covers that get that reaction, and the bands’ reputations tend to suffer long after the novelty has worn off. But back in the 60s, it was like songs belonged to music in general, and as long as you put a unique spin on it, that was OK. And Franklin delivers a pretty great unique spin, belting out the familiar melody with a totally new life. (more…)