Monday, August 25, 2008

Dr. Feelgood.

In the wake of Jerry Wexler's passing, I have been listening to lots of classic Atlantic Aretha. And I mean lots. I was fortunate enough to be sent a copy of Aretha Franklin: Rare & Unreleased Recordings From the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul when I was a DJ back in Boston, and since the legendary producer passed, I have been giving it HEAVY play at home. Outtakes, demos, and previously unreleased sketches of her great stuff from the '60s and '70s ("Dr. Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business)", her cover of "Fool On The Hill", "Spirit In The Dark") are presented as first recorded: bare bones, basic instrumentation, very little production and therefore, an unavoidable emphasis on Aretha's dynamite voice and skilled piano playing. The tracks aren't the greatest to listen to for jamming purposes, but if you want insight into the recording process, and the before and after treatment her songs received, this double disc is certainly on point. Every cough, "one more take" and foot tap is captured, and you get to hear the blueprint of what later became Franklin's, and Wexler's, masterpieces. So, in a belated tribute to the production god behind Ray, Aretha, Wilson, and uh, the birth of R&B (a phrase he is attributed with coining) here is a rather gorgeous and bluesy rendition of the Queen belting out a classic Wexler produced gem, live in 1968, in all her glory:

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