The Bottom Line
- The vast majority of these 35 tracks have never been heard anywhere, in any form.
- Offers up a more intimate, jazzy, interpretive side of Aretha than you get on her hits.
- Like Ray Charles, Aretha demonstrates an ability to tackle absolutely any song and make it hers.
- Few of these tracks sound like hits, or even definitive statements. But they're prime Aretha.
- Release date: October 16, 2007
- Rhino / WEA 272188
- Studio (1966-1973)
- Alternate versions
Guide Review - Aretha Franklin: Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen
Except for a slightly funkier alternate mix of "Rock Steady," none of those songs are present on this newly-unearthed collection of rarities from the Queen of Soul. Indeed, to get the alternate takes of her biggest hits you'll have to pick up one of Rhino's remastered versions of her classic albums like Lady Soul and Young, Gifted, and Black.
But subtract the intimate demos that lead off the set, the two b-sides, and a previously unreleased duet with Ray himself on "Ain't But The One," taken from a 1973 TV special, and you're left with Lady Soul tackling the Great American Songbook, or at least her version of it: if you ever wanted to hear Aretha wrap her golden voice around Leonard Cohen ("Suzanne"), Motown ("You Keep Me Hangin' On" and "You're All I Need To Get By"), or even "My Way," for God's sake, this two-disc set can hook you up. Atlantic's quality control was so good that most of these tracks don't seem better than what made it to LP back in Aretha's prime -- only Joe South's "So Soon" sounds like a lost hit -- but producer Jerry Wexler, who handpicked these outtakes, realizes these are still snapshots of the Queen in her prime, and therefore invaluable. The Aretha here is a little quieter, moodier, jazzier, and more thoughtful than the one on the radio... but still a legend.