Top Artists – Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin – Live at Fillmore West

More Aretha Franklin

xxxxx
xxxxx
xxxxx
xxxxx

  • A superb pressing of this classic live Aretha album with nearly Triple Plus (A+ to A+++) sound throughout – just shy of our Shootout Winner – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Aretha’s cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water is truly amazing, but really, there’s not a weak track here – her covers of current material take those songs to another level entirely
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The music here sparkles and crackles with the energy of a top-flight rhythm section — Cornell Dupree on guitar, Bernard Purdie on drums, and Jerry Jemmott on bass, with Billy Preston on organ, Curtis on saxophone, and the Memphis Horns… the most dramatic and deeply satisfying of Aretha Franklin’s live recordings, and is a historical document that every soul fan should own…”

(more…)

Aretha Franklin – Lady Soul

xxxxx

  • This superb copy of Aretha’s 1968 release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – reasonably quiet vinyl too 
  • Surprisingly rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical, with plenty of natural ambience – Aretha’s vocals are present, breathy, and explosively dynamic
  • You’d need either a lot of copies, a lot of luck, or both, to come up with a pressing that sounds this good and plays this quietly
  • 5 stars: …an inspired blend of covers and originals from the best songwriters in soul and pop music…”

We’ve been playing a lot of Aretha Franklin records lately, working our way through her catalog, but it’s hard to find pressings that separate themselves from the pack to give you audiophile-friendly sound. Too many seem to be optimized more for the radio than for your hi-rez audio rig.

Every now and then, however, we luck into a copy that has the real soul magic in its grooves. On this album, that means Chain Of Fools and Aretha’s great version of Natural Woman will sound just the way you want them to. (more…)

Aretha Franklin – Spirit In The Dark

xxxxx

  • You’ll find insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last on this original Atlantic pressing 
  • It’s lively, open, present and natural; the soundfield is big and spacious and the bottom end is killer; Aretha fans, you won’t want to miss out on this one
  • We’ve done a ton of Aretha shootouts over the years and I’d put this one up with Amazing Grace as her top titles for sound; everything we wanted from this music, this copy was DOIN’ IT, plain and simple
  • “Spirit in the Dark was one of Aretha Franklin’s more overlooked albums from her Atlantic prime, despite the inclusion of a couple hit singles (the title track and “Don’t Play That Song”)… it’s an exuberant and remarkably consistent effort.” – All Music

(more…)

Aretha Franklin – Hey Now Hey: The Other Side of the Sky

More Aretha Franklin

Hey Now Hey: The Other Side of the Sky

xxxxx

  • A STUNNING copy of Aretha’s 1973 release, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead on correct tonality, and wonderfully breathy vocals – everything that we listen for in a great record is here
  • An album of deep introspective soul produced by none other than Quincy Jones!
  • “… notable are a poignant cover of Bernstein’s ‘Somewhere,’ and a sparkling ‘Moody’s Mood,’ and the beautiful Carolyn Franklin composition ‘Angel.'”

This vintage Atlantic LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.  (more…)

Aretha Franklin – Lady Soul (2011)

More Aretha Franklin

More Lady Soul

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

A++ sound and quiet vinyl on both sides of this 1968 soul classic, an album that received a top Five Star rating from the All Music Guide! We’ve been playing a ton of Aretha Franklin records around here in recent days, but it’s hard to find pressing that separate themselves from the pack to give you audiophile-friendly sound for her recordings, which (naturally) seem to be optimized more for the radio than for your hi-rez audio rig. Every now and then, however, we’ll luck into a copy that delivers some real soul magic in its grooves, and this was one of those copies. Chain Of Fools and Aretha’s great version of Natural Woman sound JUST RIGHT. 

Most of the Aretha records we’ve played tend to be a bit too bright, which brings out a lot of grit, grain and edge. I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I can’t imagine that’s the sound the Queen Of Soul was going for. A copy like this gives you smoother, sweeter sound with a more natural tonal balance. It makes the music work so much better — the sound is easier on the ears and not nearly as fatiguing, plus it lets you turn up the volume good and loud without giving yourself a headache! (more…)

Aretha Franklin – Amazing Grace – A Bit of Experimentation with VTA Can Really Pay Off

More Aretha Franklin

More Amazing Grace

xxxxx

This is a handy record for VTA setup, a subject we discuss at length below.

On the better copies Aretha’s vocals are as dynamic as any you will ever hear, and unlike all the records she did with Tom Dowd, her voice never breaks up on this record. If you have big speakers that can play at loud levels, with the right volume level you can really get Aretha to belt it out like nothing you have ever heard. 

Like most modern churches, the kind that have upholstered pews and lots of carpeting, the natural reverberation of the sound isn’t as pronounced as it would be were the recording taking place in a 16th century cathedral. (more…)

Aretha Franklin – Spirit In The Dark (2012)

More Aretha Franklin

More Spirit In The Dark

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Two incredible sides — an A+++ side one backed with an A++ to A+++ side two — for one of the best sounding albums Aretha recorded! We’ve done a ton of Aretha shootouts over the years and I’d put this one up with Amazing Grace as her top titles for sound. Everything we wanted from this music, this copy was DOIN’ IT, plain and simple. It’s lively, open, present and natural. The soundfield is big and spacious and the bottom end is killer. Aretha fans, you won’t want to miss out on this one! (more…)

Aretha Franklin – Young, Gifted and Black (2011)

More Aretha Franklin

More Young, Gifted and Black

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Atlantic pressing is a MONSTER, easily one of the best we’ve ever played, and unusually quiet to boot. You will have a very tough time finding a copy with even one side this good, let alone two. The music, of course, is top notch — and it’s even better when you don’t have bad sound or crappy vinyl getting in the way. I imagine the Queen Of Soul herself would be very impressed with the way she sounds on this White Hot Stamper pressing.  

This WONDERFUL album of Aretha’s is very possibly her most consisent from the period, but it’s sure a tough nut to crack sonically. So many copies are smeary, recessed and lifeless you’d think you were playing a heavy vinyl reissue, not a real Atlantic original. And no matter how hard you try, there just do not seem to be any copies with quiet surfaces and clean inner grooves. (more…)

Aretha Franklin – Laughing On The Outside (2011)

More Aretha Franklin

More Laughing On The Outside

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Minty Original looking Columbia Two Eye Demo LP from 1963 has WONDERFUL sound. It’s sweet and spacious, and the vinyl plays quietly. I don’t think you could find either a better sounding copy of this record.

Aretha’s records for Columbia feature a more pop-oriented sound than her later works. This is a great record for those interested in checking out the early roots of one of the greatest singers of all time! 

Aretha Franklin – Aretha Arrives (Reviewed in 2012)

More Aretha Franklin

More Aretha Arrives

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Atlantic Green & Blue label pressing has TWO GOOD SIDES on relatively quiet vinyl. We pulled together enough clean copies for a big shootout recently and most of them sounded the way you’d probably expect — thin, bright, and grainy. This copy did a much better job of communicating the music, giving you the kind of life and energy this music needs to work its magic.    (more…)