Release Date: Mar 10, 2009 Aretha Franklin is not especially thought of as a "cover" artist since she wrote a good deal of her own material (and had many songs supplied to her to interpret first), but she has covered many soul, R&B, and gospel songs on record. The idea behind Respect: Aretha's Influences and Inspiration is a very good one: to collect a couple dozen versions of songs, often the original ones, that Franklin herself would record, usually on Atlantic in the late '60s and early '70s (though songs that she recorded prior to 1967 on Columbia and even her teenaged '50s gospel sides, are also represented). A few of the tracks on this CD are very well known, and in fact were sometimes even big hits in their own right, like Dionne Warwick's "I Say a Little Prayer," Nina Simone's "To Be Young, Gifted and Black," Otis Redding's "Respect," Brenda Holloway's "Every Little Bit Hurts," Ray Charles' "Drown in My Own Tears," James Carr's "The Dark End of the Street," and Ben E. King's "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)." For the deeper soul fan, however, the chief pleasures are the more obscure templates that you might not already have in your collection, including cuts by legends like Wilson Pickett, Bobby Bland, Jackie Wilson, Ray Charles, Bill Withers, Percy Mayfield, Johnny Ace, James Carr, Howard Tate, and Bobby Womack. Especially interesting are the more obscure source points for Franklin, like Thelma Jones' little-known original version of "The House That Jack Built"; Dinah Washington's "Soulville," one of the hardest-rocking tracks she ever did; efforts by singers (Jean Wells on "Sit Down and Cry," and Mary Wheeler on "Prove It") who are known almost exclusively to soul collectors; and lowdown blues by Big Maybelle (on "Pitiful"). Owing to Franklin's taste and the skills of her predecessors, the effect is very much like that of hearing a good soul/R&B mix tape, but one with thoroughly expert annotation and packaging. Even some of the well-known cuts are made more interesting to experts by the use of (in the case of Redding's "Respect" and King's "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)") rarer LP versions. It does have to be said that it can't quite maintain the level of songs that were classics in their pre-Franklin incarnations (like the aforementioned ones by Redding, Simone, King, and Warwick, as well as Don Covay & the Goodtimers' "See Saw") throughout. Little Miss Cornshucks' "Try a Little Tenderness," for instance, is quaint next to the soulafied treatments of Redding or Franklin. On the whole, however, it's that too-rare cross-licensed thematic compilation that's both highly entertaining and highly educational.
01.Otis Redding - Respect 02.Thelma Jones - The House That Jack Built 03.Don Covay & the Goodtimers - See Saw 04.Jean Wells - Sit Down And Cry 05.Ben E King - Don't Play That Song (You Lied) 06.Brenda Holloway - Every Little Bit Hurts 07.Dinah Washington - Soulville 08.Big Maybelle - Pitiful 09.Bobby Bland - Share Your Love With Me 10.Helen Humes with Buck Clayton's Orchestra - Today I Sing The Blues 11.Johnny Ace with the Beale Streeters - My Song 12.Little Miss Cornshucks - Try A Little Tenderness 13.Jackie Wilson - I'm Wanderin' 14.Percy Mayfield - The River's Invitation 15.Ray Charles - Drown In My Own Tears 16.James Carr - The Dark End Of The Street 17.Mary Wheeler - Prove It 18.Wilson Pickett - I'm In Love 19.Howard Tate - Eight Days On The Road 20.Nina Simone - To Be Young, Gifted And Black 21.Bill Withers - Let Me In Your Life 22.Bobby Womack - That's The Way I Feel About 'Cha 23.Dionne Warwick - I Say A Little Prayer 24.Clara Ward - The Day Is Passed And Gone