Monday, March 19, 2007

The Queen of Soulville!

Aretha Franklin - Soulville

First of all, I must thank Tim Lawrence for giving me another go behind the "wheels of steel" at "Rhythm & Booze" this past Saturday. It was a rush to spin some great records for a nice-sized, enthusiastic crowd that was ready to party on St. Pat's! I will record Episode #16 of the podcast this week, which will consist of the tunes I played over two sets that evening. Today's selection was the lead-off of the first set.

In 1960, Aretha Franklin, with her father's blessings, signed to Columbia Records under the auspices of John Hammond, and she recorded for the label until 1967, when she moved to Atlantic and proceeded to earn the "Queen of Soul" mantle (an honorific legendary WVON disc jockey Purvis Spann claims to have given her) right out of the gate with "I Never Loved a Man." As a result of her immense success with Atlantic, her Columbia recordings have been greatly ignored or, at best, presented as a poor fit for a newcomer artist. Although it is fair to say that Jerry Wexler and company at Atlantic capitalized best on her talents at a time when Columbia, with Mitch Miller at A&R and with an attitude common to most major labels of the time, chose to attempt to break Aretha more as a pop (not rock-n-roll) singer than as an R&B singer, her Columbia output is very good and it deserves more praise. "Soulville" was one of the few R&B hits Franklin had while on Columbia, and you know it's going to be good from the opening piano notes through Aretha and the backup group's workout of the lyrics and the great uptempo groove. The Queen of Soulville had arrived!

(Postscript - Titus Turner, co-writer of the tune, also recorded a nice version of the tune that sports a more New Orleans-flavored groove and a singing style that makes it fit almost as a perfect bookend to Mr. Fine Wine's classic theme song, "Downtown Soulville" by Chuck Edwards.)

(EDITOR'S NOTE - I have decided for the time being to stick with's Online File Folder for the downloads for this blog. Although I liked the preview feature and the fact that I didn't have to update links every 100 downloads, the fact that there were pop-up ads and issues with Firefox compatability for readers who use that browser have convinced me to, at least for now, stick with what I've been doing. I have looked into using Hipcast, which would allow me to put a preview pane inside of the blog - thus no pop-up ads, etc. - but at $9.99 a month I would be increasing the costs of doing the blog instead of having money to buy records with!)

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