I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

The Long Reign of Soul: Aretha Franklin

by Johnathon Davis
Sept. 11, 2013

When it comes to Soul music you cannot really argue who the reigning Queen is because there is only one logical choice- Aretha Franklin. Think about it for a second, how many other artists can you think of who are known simply by their first name and almost always followed by an exclamation point? Aretha is a sonic tour de force that has yet to be equalled, and this array of early live footage shows us all exactly why. Even though some of it was filmed nearly fifty years ago, the energy and frenzy of it all is still just as fresh as when it was recorded- just you watch the cuts performed in the Live In Amsterdam section of this collection to see what I mean.

Few live artists have such an emotional impact that lasts so long as Aretha’s has, and it is hard for me to discuss her music without simply wanting to yell YEAH! really loud because that is simply how her voice makes me feel. But soul music wasn’t her only specialty- she easily went from gospel to soul to jazz and even funk without so much as a shrug over the decades of her career (the track Rocksteady is a particular favorite of mine) leaving an expansive pallet to draw from. And with backup singers and a band like she had, it’s not hard to see why audiences got wound up into such a frenzy. I think her incredible fashion sense probably helped quite a bit too.

While her best known track to most of us is of course the immortal cut "R.E.S.P.E.C.T.," this collection captures her other hits and some real goldmine TV appearances which all but the most astute among us have never seen before- the duet with Sammy Davis Jr. is a particular joy. Aretha’s early career is peppered with jams that modern musical artists could only dream of achieving, so tune in and spend an hour and a half with musical royalty- the grooves are as majestic as ever. Give a big hand to the curator of this setlist Markus Fiedler while you are at it, this is epic.


Johnathon lives in Portland, Oregon. He makes collages. He also writes things for Network Awesome, as well as his weekly movie review blog which can be found at http://fshomevideo.blogspot.com. You should read it, it's really terrific.