Thursday, May 22, 2008

Classic Album Revisited

Many people consider ReRe's I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You to be the greatest soul album ever released. The recording of the legendary album began on January 26, 1967 in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and ended on February 16 in NYC. The project was entrusted to the musical genius of producers Arif Madrin, Jerry Wexler, and Tom Dowd. Aretha was accompanied by an array of talented musicians, all unaware they were creating the blueprint for all soul artists to follow. The first song recorded was the title cut "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You". Aretha accompanied herself at the piano and sang from the depths of her being, declaring "you're a no good heart breaker...your a liar and a cheat... I don't know why I let you do these things to me...." Aretha was a woman capable of expressing emotions from the depths of her soul. That was evident in "Do Right Woman-Do Right Man", a thought provoking song that tested the nature of relationships. She made it a family affair with sisters Erma and Carolyn singing background vocals along with Cissy Houston. Aretha along with sister Carolyn and legendary sax man King Curtis wrote "Save Me", a joyful infectious song that spoke of one lover wanting to be saved from the other. Aretha barred her soul and injected a gospel style sound on an emotionally charged cover of Ray Charles "Drown In My Own Tears." Sister ReRe recorded the intense "Baby Baby Baby", where she expressed her heartbreak and undying love. Superb guitar and saxophone arrangements complemented Aretha's vocals on "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream." As on of the great interpreters of soul music Aretha brought something special to an Otis Redding hit. Aretha took "Respect", with it's unforgettable "sock-it-to-me" background part, and turned it into a classic and taught us how to spell at the same time. There was no doubt that Aretha was a product of the sanctified church when she sang a personal and highly emotional rendition of Sam Cooke's, one of her early musical mentors, "A Change Is Gonna Come." Aretha serenaded listeners with "Soul Serenade", a1964 hit for King Curtis. She also breathed new life into Sam Cooke's upbeat "Good Times." "Dr. Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business)" written by Aretha and then husband Ted White was sung with the intensity and conviction of a gospel singer. But unlike gospel it expressed adult love in its most passionate and erotic form. Aretha moaned and hollered " I don't want nobody always sitting around me and my man...but oh when me and that man get to loving... I just don't have time to sit and chit chat and smile...don't send me no doctor, filling me up with all those pills...I got me a man named Dr. Feelgood...Good God almighty the man sure makes me feel good." Aretha took us down many a road. She sung about the highs and lows of love, the harsh realities of relationships, the change needed so desperately in our country, and respect. Say it with me "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." Aretha's fusion of gospel, blues, and jazz is astounding. This album is in a class of its own, it has no peer. I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love ranked #1 on Rolling Stone's "Women In Rock: 50 Essential Albums."