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23 June 2021

Aretha Franklin Career-Spanning Box Set Announced

Aretha Best Soul Songs
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Aretha Franklin will be the subject of ARETHA, a career-spanning 4CD and digital collection featuring 81 tracks, including 19 previously unreleased alternate versions, demos, rarities andd special live performances. There will also be 2LP and single CD versions released featuring highlights from the set, all versions will be available on 30 July from Rhino. Fans can enjoy a taster of the set with the previously unreleased 1978 studio recording of Aretha’s soaring cover of You Light Up My Life available today here. Although Franklin performed the song live and on TV, this version has remained unheard until now and boasts one of her most powerful vocal performances from the era.

Arranged in mostly chronological order, ARETHA opens with Never Grow Old and You Grow Closer, which were released as her first single in 1956 by JVB Records. Notably, she recorded these gospel songs at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, CL Franklin, was the longtime pastor.

The next 10 songs focus on the period between 1960 and 1966 when Franklin was signed to Columbia Records, including her first single with the label (Today I Sing The Blues), her first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (Won’t Be Long), plus the Top 40 R&B hits Runnin’ Out Of Fools, One Step Ahead and Cry Like A Baby.

The majority of ARETHA is dedicated to her record-shattering tenure with Atlantic Records between 1967 and 1979, which included five consecutive No 1 R&B albums. In fact, the first two unreleased songs on the collection – My Kind Of Town (Detroit Is) and Try A Little Tenderness – are home demos that she recorded in 1966 to give Atlantic executive and producer Jerry Wexler an idea of possible material for her debut LP for label. My Kind Of Town (Detroit Is) finds Franklin replacing the Chicago lyric from the classic Sinatra version of the song with a callout to her hometown of Detroit.

Of course, Aretha’s biggest hits are here too, like I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You), (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone and her signature smash, Respect. But instead of using familiar takes for other hits, the collection selects different versions, like alternate takes of Chain Of Fools, Rock Steady, and Spanish Harlem; live recordings of Baby I Love You and Don’t Play That Song; and Think recorded for The Blues Brothers soundtrack.

Her early 70s collaboration with producer Quincy Jones is revisited with a trio of unreleased recordings including the Franklin original The Boy From Bombay and a stunning alternate version of her take on the Sondheim & Bernstein classic, Somewhere.

ARETHA also shines a light on her best work with Arista Records between 1980 and 2007. Standouts from this era include hits like Jump To It and Freeway Of Love. This period also featured a number of memorable collaborations including Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves with Eurythmics and the No 1 hit, I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) with George Michael.

Even for longtime fans, ARETHA delivers plenty of surprises. Prime examples are the numerous unreleased work tapes and demos for hits like Angel, Until You Come Back To Me and Brand New Me. The set also features the CD and digital debuts of several television appearances, including duets with Tom Jones (It’s Not Unusual/See Saw), Smokey Robinson (Ooo Baby Baby) and Dionne Warwick (I Say A Little Prayer.) Finally, the collection rounds up rarities like her cover of Donny Hathaway’s Someday We’ll All Be Free from the Malcom X soundtrack and her jaw-dropping live performance of Nessun Dorma.

To put Franklin’s life and career into perspective, the collection is accompanied by sleevenotes written by Rochelle Riley, author and director of arts and culture for the City of Detroit, and David Nathan, founder and historian who interviewed Franklin more times than any other living writer. The collection also features stunning artwork by celebrated artist Makeba Keebs Rainey, who applies her signature style to a classic portrait of the Queen Of Soul by renowned photographer Neal Preston. The new box set will arrive shortly before the premiere of Respect, the highly anticipated biopic about Franklin’s life starring Jennifer Hudson.

Track Listing

Disc One
“Never Grow Old”
“You Grow Closer”
“Today I Sing The Blues”
“Won’t Be Long”
“Are You Sure”
“Operation Heartbreak”
“Runnin’ Out Of Fools”
“One Step Ahead”
“(No, No) I’m Losing You”
“Cry Like A Baby”
“A Little Bit Of Soul”
“My Kind Of Town (Detroit Is)” – Demo *
“Try A Little Tenderness” – Demo *
“I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)”
“Do Right Woman – Do Right Man”
“A Change Is Gonna Come”
“Chain Of Fools” – Alternate Version
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – UK Single Version
“(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone”
“Ain’t No Way”
“My Song”
“You Send Me”
“The House That Jack Built”
“Tracks Of My Tears”

Disc Two
“Baby I Love You” – Live
“Son Of A Preacher Man”
“Call Me” – Alternate Version *
“Let It Be”
“Young, Gifted And Black” – Alternate Longer Take *
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Long Version
“It’s Not Unusual/See Saw” – with Tom Jones *
(Originally Broadcast On This Is Tom Jones, October, 9, 1970)
“You’re All I Need To Get By” – Work Tape *
“Brand New Me” – Work Tape *
“Spanish Harlem” – Alternate Mix *
“Rock Steady” – Alternate Mix/Take
“Day Dreaming”
“Share Your Love With Me” – Live
“Don’t Play That Song” – Live
“Dr. Feelgood” – Live
“Spirit In The Dark” (Reprise with Ray Charles) – Live
“How I Got Over” (Single Edit) – Live
“Master Of Eyes (The Deepness Of Your Eyes)”

Disc Three
“Somewhere” – Alternate Version *
“Angel” – Work Tape *
“The Boy From Bombay” *
“Til It’s Over” – Demo *
“Oh Baby” (a.k.a. “There’s Something Magic About You”) – Demo *
“Until You Come Back To Me” – Work Tape *
“I’m In Love” – Alternate Vocal
“Without Love”
“Mr. D.J. (5 For The D.J.)”
“Something He Can Feel”
“Look Into Your Heart”
“Break It To Me Gently”
“When I Think About You”
“Almighty Fire (Woman Of The Future)”
“Ladies Only” – Short Version
“You Light Up My Life” *
“Ooo Baby Baby” – with Smokey Robinson *
(Originally Broadcast On Soul Train, December 1, 1979)
“Amazing Grace”
(Originally Broadcast On Royal Variety Performance, November 23, 1980)

Disc Four
“I Say A Little Prayer” – with Dionne Warwick *
“United Together”
“Jump To It”
“The Wind”
“Freeway Of Love”
“Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” – Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin
“I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) – Aretha Franklin and George Michael
“Oh Happy Day” – with Mavis Staples (Live at New Bethel Baptist Church, Detroit, MI – July 1987)
“A Rose Is Still A Rose”
“Someday We’ll All Be Free”
“The Makings Of You”
“Nessun Dorma” – Live
“At Last” – with Lou Rawls *
(Originally Broadcast On American Soundtrack: Rhythm, Love And Soul, March 2003)
“You’ve Got A Friend” – Ronald Isley featuring Aretha Franklin
“Rolling In The Deep” – The Aretha Version
“My Country ’Tis Of Thee”
“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” – Live *
(Originally Broadcast On The 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, December 19. 2015)

2LP Track Listing (Also Available As Single CD)

Side One
“Never Grow Old”
“Today I Sing The Blues”
“One Step Ahead”
“I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)”
“A Change Is Gonna Come”

Side Two
“Chain Of Fools” – Alternate Version
“Call Me” – Alternate Version *
“Rock Steady” – Alternate Mix/Take
“How I Got Over” (Single Edit) – Live

Side Three
“Master Of Eyes (The Deepness Of Your Eyes)”
“Until You Come Back To Me” – Work Tape *
“Something He Can Feel”
“You Light Up My Life” *

Side Four
“Freeway Of Love”
“I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) – Aretha Franklin and George Michael
“Someday We’ll All Be Free”
“A Rose Is Still A Rose”
“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” – Live*
(Originally Broadcast On The 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors 12/19/15)

*Previously Unreleased Audio

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