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22 of 23 found the following review helpful:
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Giving The Queen Her Propers Jun 13, 2000
By David W. Coleman
Aretha Franklin always had the tools. She was the daughter of a minister and grew up singing in the church. She could also play a mean piano, whether slow and soulfully, or fast and rollicking. At the age of 18 she signed with Columbia Records. For the next 6 years, she recorded a huge body of work, ranging from jazz and blues, to standards and pop, to straight R&B and soul. The label didn't seem to know what to do with her, in terms of consistent direction. But all of that dues-paying singing Aretha did in those early years would soon pay off in a big way. When her CBS contract expired, Atlantic Records snapped her up faster than you can say "Gold Records." The rest, as they say, is history. This album changed things all at once for Aretha. Its release proved to be both a coming-out party and a coronation. And a singer who, to that point, was considered an also-ran amidst the landscape of soul-singing Sisters, took her rightful place as The Queen of Soul. It is a place she still holds today. No one could do it like Aretha! This landmark set contained two singles that changed the face of pop music. The title cut set the tone with its first biting line: "You're a no good heartbreaker!" But, of course, Aretha loves him. In that way, she was like a lot of other women, especially Black women. That's really the key to Aretha's success: she knows how to talk to women. Sisterhood has really always been where she was coming from. The next single, "Respect," is considered by most to be the greatest pop single of all time. Which is amazing, considering that its writer, Otis Redding, had a big R&B hit with the song only 2 years prior. The story goes that when Otis first heard Aretha's version, he told his producer, "That girl done stole my song!" He was right. Aretha, singing and playing her heart out, was all over "Respect." She demanded her propers not only for herself, but for Black women, for women worldwide, for Black people, and for oppressed people everywhere. The album's third single, "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," is another classic. And this deep, deep set also contains favorites like "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream" and "Soul Serenade." And Aretha showcases all she learned singing the blues at CBS, with her self-penned "Dr. Feelgood," which is still one of her biggest numbers at live shows. One listen to this song, and you can't help but say, "Right on, Sister!" or "You go, Girl!" In case you don't know, this album routinely makes the top ten of lists of the best albums ever. I rank it just behind "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye, as the second-best soul album of all-time.
11 of 11 found the following review helpful:
One of the best albums ever Jul 15, 2001
A lot of people have called this the best soul album ever. That's selling it short. Certainly Aretha Franklin's voice and piano playing, along with those fat horns behind her, are the very definition of soul. But this album is so good that if you made a list of the best albums of all times in ANY genre this one would have to be on it.
Even if you own one of the greatest hits collections, or even the boxed set, you need this album (and probably "Lady Soul" as well). It just all hangs together so beautifully.
"Respect" starts it off with a great big blast of horns and Aretha's commanding voice. Then she slows down and breaks your heart with "Drown In My Own Tears." Most of the rest of the songs on the album are more emotionally complicated, combining the qualities of the first two songs. They mine the pain of deep love and at the same time demand respect and decent treatment (You have to understand that this album came out in 1967 - several years before the modern feminist movement began - to realize how remarkable that is. And to this day I don't think any singer other than Lauryn Hill has captured women's simultaneous need for love and dignity as well).
The album ends on a perfect note: Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." Cooke originally wrote the song as a kind of response to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changing." Cooke was more optimistic than Dylan, and the song suggests that despite the pain and turmoil of the sixties, better days were ahead, particularly in the area of civil rights. It's also a deeply religious song. When Aretha sings it, she holds out the same hope and optimism for the country that Sam Cooke did. But in the context of the album, it seems to take on a more personal meaning as well. It's not just about different races learning to get along, but about men and women learning to give each other respect as well. I literally can't listen to her sing it without crying. If this song doesn't set your soul on fire, you haven't got one.
All in all, this is one of those rare albums, in the same category as Kind of Blue, Sgt. Pepper, and Blonde on Blonde, that you just have to own and listen to over and over again. It's not just great popular music, it's a work of art.
11 of 12 found the following review helpful:
the Queen, indeed Sep 10, 2004
By J. Brady
So much has been written about this album that it's really tough to add anything new. And the term "classic" is thrown around so much these days that it's hard to put it into any useful perspective. But the bottom line is this: any serious fan of music should have a copy of this; it trascends all labels, all boundaries. It is a must have. And there is a reason Rolling Stone Magazine gives this 5 stars and calls this "the Best Soul Album Ever Recorded" ( it says so right on the cd package.) From the instantly recognizable sass and strut of "Respect", to the blues belter "Dr Feelgood", through the Bossa Nova-flavoured "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream", every song is a winner. Miss Franklin even had a hand in writing several of the tracks on this album, showing she is much more than just "the world's greatest soul singer." There are more classic songs on this album than you can shake a stick at. Just read the tracklisting and see for yourself. Franklin is backed by the Muscle Shoals house band on this album, although only one song ( the incredible title track ) was recorded entirely in the famous Alabama studio, and they really deliver the goods. As good as some of her mostly overlooked Columbia Records material was ( and a lot of it was very good, although it was more "adult" in that it was more jazz oriented ) her Atlantic debut has a passion - grit and soul- that had never before been captured on tape. And Franklin has a gift of interpretation ( only hinted at during her 5 years with Columbia Records, where she mostly sang big band, jazz, blues, soul and pop covers, as well as a small handfull of self-penned originals ) that is unequaled in the world of popular music. Her covers of Otis Redding's "Respect, of "Drown In My Own Tears" ( previously recorded by both Dinah Washington and by Ray Charles ) and of Sam Cooke's beautiful ballad "A Change Is Gonna Come" make you forget the orginals. The Reign Begins Here.
4 of 4 found the following review helpful:
Timeless soul diamond Jan 13, 2007
By Elliot Knapp
Worth checking out on the merit of transcendent hit "Respect" alone, "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You" is one of my favorite soul albums for three main reasons: Aretha's voice, of course, the ripping backing band she's got, and the songs.
Anyone with a radio has probably heard Aretha belt out "Respect" and other hits, but checking out an entire album really enhanced my appreciation of her remarkable voice. Her range and power are extraordinary, and to think of her pounding the keys while singing out her anguish and happiness really makes the album magic. Her lively wailing on "Drown in My Own Tears" is soaked in authenticity, and her sultry readings of the title track and "Dr. Feelgood" make it a surprisingly steamy affair. It's great to hear Aretha pour her sweat, heart, and guts into these songs and hear the soft, hard, fiery and sweet sounds her voice is capable of.
The backing band is tight and spot on--there's some really gnarly blues guitar, for instance, on the title track, and "Save Me" doesn't drop a funk-soaked beat. Throughout the whole album, the saxes and brass shine and accentuate the spaces between Aretha's confessions, illustrating the soul truth that simple is powerful. The background singers also help support Aretha's power with soft harmonies (like on the jazzy "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream").
Last, the songs are stupendous. Not only does Franklin conquer Otis Redding's "Respect" and cut the definitive version, she also reimagines Sam Cooke's "Good Times" and gives the man a run for his money on her tender reading of "A Change is Gonna Come." Along the way, she also manages to make soul classics out of a few other songwriters' tunes ("Do Right Woman") AND co-write some soul classics of her very own. Serious business indeed.
I love this CD and listen to it all the time--no matter how radio-overplayed "Respect" is, this album still glitters with the magic that created it and remains part of the bedrock of my modest soul collection.
4 of 4 found the following review helpful:
A Chiseled-In-Stone Masterpiece Mar 08, 2004
By D.V. Lindner
Like `nevermind' below, I too worry about my command of English in assigning this album its propers. Released March 10, 1967 (as Atlantic LP No. 8139), less than three months before the Beatles magnum opus, "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You," is the equivalent in the soul music realm as "Sgt. Pepper" is in rock and roll. It's as simple as that. Hard to believe now, isn't it, that "Respect" waited in the album for single release (as Atlantic 2403) until April 16th?!
I confess that as a 13-year-old in 1967, I somehow missed the chart run of the title song, which came first. But "Respect" was simply a song NO ONE could ignore or dislike. It crossed all cultural, racial, gender and age barriers as a song urging one to confident self-assertion, and still does. The company's honchos must have been thrilled that early summer of 67 when "Respect," along with the Young Rascals "Groovin'," kept Atlantic releases owning the top of the pop chart for six consecutive weeks.
A startlingly brilliant artist had arrived and minted me as one more fan that spring as the trees blossomed. Aretha is going to be 62 this year and I'll be 50, but she can still count on my money. This is the album that started it all, and if it's possible that you have no Franklin material in your collection, this is the place you MUST start.
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