First off, let it be said there is no shortage of Aretha Franklin music out there. I mean, holy crap, there are more than 40 albums on Spotify alone and that’s not counting the singles and compilations. Actually that’s why it took so long for me to post again; I was busy listening to that massive library of Aretha Franklin music.
And she’s still going, by the way. Her most recent album was in 2014, and she still tours and performs.
It was interesting listening to the different styles and recording qualities as I listened backwards through time. Current era Aretha’s voice shows her age just a little bit. If you want an example, listen to her cover album Sings the Great Diva Classics.
00’s and 90’s era Aretha left me a little tickled. It sounds just like the rest of the R&B/soul music of that time that I remember. Recommendation: listen to the songs “Wonderful” and “A Rose Is Still A Rose”
80’s Aretha was par for the course (but don’t be fooled, par on this course is fantastic) though I would note she recorded a jazz album in 1984 that stood out. It’s called Aretha’s Jazz, and it shows off her voice in a beautiful way.
Classic 60’s and 70’s Aretha will probably always be my favorite. Her voice is and always has been incredibly beautiful and strong. There are so many amazing songs from this period, I would recommend all of it. Really, just check it out. If you want specific recommendations, I will include a list of some of my all time Aretha favorites at the end of this post.
When you get back into the early 60’s she was mostly recording Gospel tunes. As with many famous soul and gospel artists, religion was a huge part of her upbringing. Her father was a well known pastor and she had been singing in churches since she was a little girl. There are some excellent tunes there as well, a good collection of which can be found on the album Amazing Grace.
All in all, Aretha Franklin has earned her title as Queen of Soul ten times over. She is extremely talented and skilled. If you like soul music at all, you are probably already quite familiar with much of her music, but I would suggest checking out some of the deeper cuts.
However; if you want to just listen to a good sampling, there are many great compilation albums available that have the best of the best of her music.
Fun fact! She famously stepped in at the Grammys one year for an ill Luciano Pavarotti, singing the famous opera tenor piece “Nessun Dorma” and absolutely nailed it. Here’s a video clip: https://youtu.be/5PONptwUo-Y
She shaped a genre, her music moves people, and her legacy will last for a long time to come.
As promised, here is a
short list of some of my favorite Aretha tunes:
“Today I Sing the Blues”
“See Saw” *
“I Say a Little Prayer”
“Chain Of Fools” *
“The Weight” *
“Fool On The Hill”
“I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You” *
“(You Made Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”
“A Song For You”
“A Rose Is Still A Rose”
“Rock With Me”
“Son of a Preacher Man”
“Love For Sale”
Well, that turned out to be longer than I intended. I starred my top 5, if you want a shorter list. They are all great songs, though. And there are many more! Go check it out!