Monday, January 22, 2018

50 years ago: Aretha Franklin released Lady Soul

First posted 3/16/2008; updated 12/2/2020.

Lady Soul

Aretha Franklin

Released: January 22, 1968

Charted: February 24, 1968

Peak: 2 US, 116 RB, 25 UK

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Genre: R&B


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Chain of Fools (12/9/67, 2 US, 43 UK, 1 RB, gold single)
  2. Money Won’t Change You
  3. People Get Ready
  4. Niki Hoeky
  5. You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman (9/30/67, 8 US, 2 RB)
  6. Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby) (3/2/68, 5 US, 47 UK, 1 RB, gold single)
  7. Good to Me As I Am to You
  8. Come Back Baby
  9. Groovin’
  10. Ain’t No Way (3/2/68, 16 US, 9 RB)

Total Running Time: 28:41


4.500 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)

Quotable: --

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Appearing after a blockbuster debut and a sophomore set that was rather disappointing (in comparison), 1968's Lady Soul proved Aretha Franklin, the pop sensation, was no fluke. Her performances were more impassioned than on her debut, and the material just as strong, an inspired blend of covers and originals from the best songwriters in soul and pop music.” JB

“The singing here isn’t technically perfect – the roots of what would become Franklin’s unwavering campaign of melody obliteration are evident – unless we're speaking emotionally, in which case there's not a wrong note.” TL This is a “master class in technique, power and pure feel. No filler – just 10 cuts of complete artistic control” BL and “ten steps to R&B perfection.” BL

“The opener, Chain of Fools, became the biggest hit, driven by a chorus of cascading echoes by Franklin and her bedrock backing vocalists, the Sweet Impressions, plus the unforgettable, earthy guitar work of guest Joe South.” JB The song was “inspired by the lines of cotton pickers songwriter Don Covay saw growing up in the south.” TL

“The album's showpiece, though, was You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” JB “the sexually liberating star turn.” BL It was “written expressly for her by Brill Building pop stalwarts Gerry Goffin and Carole King, based on a title coined by producer Jerry Wexler.” JB “One of the landmark performances in pop music” JB and “an enduring gender anthem,” TL the song floats serenely through the verses until, swept up by Ralph Burns' stirring string arrangement again and again, Franklin opens up on the choruses with one of the most transcendent vocals of her career.” JB

“It’s a testament to Franklin that these songs sound unwritten, as if they didn't exist until she opened her mouth and gave them life.” TL

“Just as she'd previously transformed a soul classic (Otis Redding’s ‘Respect’) into a signature piece of her own, Franklin courageously reimagined songs by heavyweights James Brown, Ray Charles, and the Impressions. Brown’s Money Won't Change You is smooth and kinetic, her testifying constantly reinforced by interjections from the Sweet Inspirations. Curtis Mayfield's People Get Ready, a 1965 civil-rights anthem and a hit for the Impressions, is taken at a slower pace than the original; after a quiet verse, Franklin lets loose amidst a magisterial brass arrangement by Arif Mardin.” JB “Even her cover of the Young Rascals’ throwaway Groovin’ is transcendent.” TL

“Powered by three hit singles (each nested in the upper reaches of the pop Top Ten), Lady Soul became Aretha Franklin's second gold LP and remained on the charts for over a year.” JB

Notes: A reissue of the album adds the singles remixes of “Chain of Fools,” “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,” “Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby),” and “Ain’t No Way.”

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