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Aretha Franklin

Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin

Review by Gary Hill

Aretha Franklin is a legend. There is no debate about that. This new CD/DVD combo showcases a pretty amazing concert. There are a lot of notable guests from Jill Scott to Mary J. Blige and more. The audio show is great, but the video version really takes it to a different level of participation. The one complaint I have is that "Freeway of Love" is only on the DVD. The fact that the cut includes a guest appearance from Stevie Wonder makes that a shame. I think they could have left the Kid Rock tune off the CD and put that one instead. I think it would fit just fine, but I haven't done the math.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
I Can't Turn You Loose - Aretha Franklin
I love the horn heavy arrangement on this killer soulful tune. This is a real stomper that works quite well.
Chain of Fools - Aretha Franklin with Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough and AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys
There is a killer R&B groove to this rocking number. It's high energy and a lot of fun.
Ain't No Way - Aretha Franklin
A slower moving, balladic cut, this is all class and style. The vocals really sell this piece. It's one of my favorites of the set.
Natural Woman - Jill Scott

This is a classic tune that works so well here. It's a bit more modern than the previous tunes. Then again, those felt pretty timeless, though. So, it's just a matter of degrees.

Long Walk - Jill Scott
More of a funky, bluesy jam, I don't really like this one as much. It's clearly more modern and stylized. I think that the more classic sound works better. All that said, this is quality stuff. It entertains and grooves.
Think - Aretha Franklin
We're back into the horn laden, old school sound here. This is a shuffling powerhouse that work so well.
Day Dreaming - Mary J. Blige
With some smooth R&B built into the tune, this is classy. There is a tasty vocal workout section mid-track that includes multiple layers of vocals and some scat singing. While it's cool, I think that kind of detracts from the song itself.
Do Right Woman - Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige
This is just another classy soulful tune. The horns add a lot to the arrangement and the whole cut just rocks.
Nessum Dorma - Aretha Franklin
Classical music is the backing on this. I'm not a fan of this cut at all.
Rock Steady- Aretha Franklin, Kid Rock and Teddy Franklin

 Kid Rock ruins this song for me. I  just don't like him at all. His very presence here makes this one a "must skip" for me.

Precious Memories - Aretha Franklin and Bishop Paul S. Morton and the New Jersey Mass Choir
Combining gospel and blues, this cut is quite strong. It really has a lot of spirit and passion built into it. It's quite old-school and classic. They turn this out into an extended jam that's very cool.
Respect - Aretha Franklin
The CD closes with Aretha Franklin's trademark number. Well, that's not much new that can be said about this song. This performance is top-notch.
 
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