Album: Aretha Franklin

Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul
Click to follow

While there's little dispute about Aretha Franklin's title of queen of soul, this two-CD compilation of outtakes shows that she was guilty of the odd lacklustre performance – or of wringing the life out of a song. The most glaring example here is Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne", its purity torn by her vocal showboating. That's not the case with earlier covers of "My Way" and "Fool on the Hill", which sound more like hangovers from her pre-Atlantic days, when Columbia tried to make her into a cabaret star. Piano demos of songs such as "Sweet Bitter Love" reveal Franklin's debt to Nina Simone, while "I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)" suggests a similar debt to Jerry Wexler.

She was also clearly fond of recycling favourite hooks, adding a refrain of "I say a little prayer" to "Heavenly Father", and reintroducing the "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" spell-out to her cover of "You're All I Need to Get By". But the alternative take of "Rock Steady", with more prominent bass and percussion, is every bit as propulsive as the original.

Download this: 'Rock Steady', 'Sweet Bitter Love', 'You're All I Need to Get By'