I find Aretha Franklin’s voice, style and story enchanting. I still have a vivid memory of when I discovered and fell in love with her, which all happened in the same moment. To protect the other party involved I won’t go too much into the detail, but suffice to say I was in my teens and it was one of those do we 'make up or break up?' situations. I thought it was time to break up so she sent me a TDK C90 cassette tape with just one song recorded on it in a 90 minute loop. That song was Aretha’s Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do) and after hearing that, of course, we made up.
Among the great things about Aretha, and something I think we can all learn from, has been her versatility and her ability to move and change with the times. During her long and illustrious career she has proved herself to be equally at home in the gospel, blues, jazz, doo-wop, rhythm and blues, soul, pop, dance and modern R ‘n’ B idioms. She also has a scary ability to ‘own’ the song every time, no matter who the original was by or how successful it had been. Dionne Warwick’s I Say A Little Prayer is a great example of this. Aretha’s version started out as something she sang for fun in between recordings while in the studio working on her 1968 Aretha Now album. A decision was eventually taken to record the track and release it as a B side. It went on to reach No. 4 in the UK charts.
Aretha has worked with an amazing and diverse array of great 20th century artists including George Benson, Curtis Mayfield, Annie Lennox, George Michael, Luther Vandross and Mary J. Blige. Bearing all of this in mind, I think it’s fair to say that Aretha is not only the Queen of Soul, she is also a Queen of Reinvention.
Just in case you’re wondering, DJ Pascoe’s top 10 tunes by Aretha are:
1. Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What’s I’m Gonna Do) – Let Me into Your Life, 1974
2. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman - Lady Soul, 1968
3. I Say A Little Prayer – Aretha Now, 1968
4. Respect - I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You, 1967
5. Jump To It – Jump To It, 1882
6. You Send Me - Aretha Now, 1968
7. No Matter What, So Damn Happy 2003
8. Giving Him Something He Can Feel - Sparkle, 1976
9. Angel – Hey Now Hey (The Otherside Of The Sky) 1973
10. Day Dreaming - I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You, 1967
Tune in to DJ Pascoe’s Groove Control Experience radio show, Wednesdays, 10 – midnight @www.soulradiouk.com