“Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” – Aretha Franklin

TRACK LISTING & COMMENTS

  1. At Last – This is an OK, but not great cover.  It really feels like a cover.  As I mentioned in the full review, I was excited to listen to this version of “At Last”, because this song always reminds me of every wedding first dance – or stereotypical wedding MOVIE first dance – of all time.  But something was missing here – I felt nothing!  The emotion and awww factor of the Etta James version was just not there.
  2. Rolling In the Deep (The Aretha Version) – I thought this was great. This is already a really good, energetic song, and Aretha takes it to the next level.  I wish had taken better notes – but I think I remember that the lead singing, underlying rhythm, and backing vocals just seem enhanced in every way over the original.  Loved it!
  3. Midnight Train To Georgia – the Gladys Night performance is hard to beat. That song has special meaning to me since I moved away from my family when I was 20 (for a boy, of course), and I used to quote lines of the lyric to myself as personal encouragement.  This version is a little faster, and the backup singers are female, which shouldn’t matter but it produces an overall lighter sound.  It almost sounds like the tape has been put on high-speed!  The male singers provide a lot of personality to the original version, which is why I think the overall experience is different here.
  4. I Will Survive (The Aretha Version) – This one came out pretty good, mostly I think because Aretha throws a lot of her own style in here, but it really works with the song. She uses a different phrasing for the opening line that might throw you off a bit at first – but then she has some sassy comments thrown in (“get to steppin’!”) that make this version extra fun and fresh.
  5. People – I’m not sure I gave this one a fair trial. I should have spent some time with the Barbara Streisand original in order to provide a good comparison… but I just don’t like this song.  It comes across like a run-on-sentence trying to describe an incomplete idea.  If you love the original – beware.  I’m learning that covers of songs that one is really attached to almost always disappoint.
  6. No One – I actually liked this! “No One” (originally performed by Alicia Keys) is well-sung by Aretha in this version, which has an extra reggae/islander feel that will make you long for warmer weather.  It was enjoyable to listen to, and pleasant to have in the car on a dark wintry day.
  7. I’m Every Woman / Respect – I had not heard “I’m Every Woman” in ages! Chaka Khan or Whitney, this is an awesome song that was popular for a reason.  Combining it with R-E-S-P-E-C-T is fun (although unexpected, and possibly unnecessary since each song could stand on its own), and it gives it that unique Aretha mark which is perfect for this album.  You’ll be turning up the volume on this one!
  8. Teach Me Tonight – There are a number of singers that have recorded this over time, but when I use Google the most acknowledged seems to be Dinah Washington. There is a beautiful picture of this woman singing her heart out into a vintage microphone – you should check it out.  However I still think this song is a little creepy, and I don’t like the vulnerability of it when I think about the lyrics.  If you already like it, you might like this version too – because the singing by Aretha is just fine.
  9. You Keep Me Hangin’ On – I don’t remember having a lot to say about this song, after several listens through the whole album, which could be a good thing. Most tracks initiated a very negative or very positive response in me, so the others just kind of faded into the background.  This is probably just fine.  The only comment I can think of is to suggest that Aretha’s voice is not as pretty as Diana Ross’ voice… but that is probably some Diva war that I don’t want to get involved in.
  10. Nothing Compares 2 U – I have to reiterate what I said in the review here. I was surprised to find this on the track listing, because 1) I didn’t realize that Sinead O’Connor was considered a classic “Diva”, and 2) the cover version is just all wrong – too many interpretive liberties are taken with the original.   The tempo is jazzy, the melody becomes upbeat even though the song is sad – so the originally haunting, memorable chorus is now barely recognizable.
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