Today’s a day to celebrate. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin is 71 years young today. My experience with Aretha came in my youth, when songs like “Respect” and “Rock Steady” echoed through the rooms of my childhood home blaring from FM radio. Gradually as I started to collect records and discover her songs that weren’t played on the radio, I got to get a peek into the many different sides of her music. Deeply rooted in Gospel (which I was exposed to through my Uncle who would take me to these Baptist revivals as a child) but reaching audiences in Jazz, Pop, R & B, Funk, Blues, and Soul by the time I saw her in The Blues Brothers movie doing “Think”, I knew that I was hooked on Sister Aretha. I’ve always picked up everything I can by her in the field, and even have grabbed her sister Carolyn’s great Northern Soul side “Reality” on RCA when it became available. The Franklins were on to something.
Today’s selection for Aretha’s birthday is from the 1973 Atlantic Records LP Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky). Produced by Quincy Jones, this full length runs the gamut of Aretha’s sweet Soul mixed in with some funky stuff and a few covers (Bobby Womack, Leonard Bernstein) with Jazz overtones peppered in. Guest players include Billy Preston, Phil Woods, and Joe Farrell. This LP is definitely a fine example of the range Franklin had (and let’s face it, still does). Despite the wonky cover, but cool illustrations by Jim Dunn (who you have seen on a bastion of Atlantic compilations, etc.), the music is definitely moving to say the least. Happy Birthday Aretha, thanks for all the great sides you’ve give us in your 5 decade career. You are truly the Queen of Soul.
Download the track here.