I heard that Starbuck's label "Hear Music" was committed to quality recordings: They delivered with this spectacular compendium of Aretha Franklin hits from the 60's and early 70's. I remember listening to Aretha Franklin on AM radio when she was topping the charts in 70's. I don't need to remind people of the uninspiring sound quality of AM radio. Worse, the tape hiss of cassettes of that era, not to mention the poor systems I had for playback left much to be desired.
I was blown away when I put the first CD of this collection in my computer for playback on my nice speakers. WOW!! Not a snap crackle or pop anywhere. No hiss. Just stunning clarity, and a beautiful sound stage. Obviously the sound stage varies depending on the original recording's mix, but some recordings, even very early ones, have huge sound stages and great imaging.
Once I got over the fantastic recording quality, I started listening to these huge hits almost for the first time. I found the recording of Mockingbird remarkably notable. It was unlike anything I recall from the era. Walk on By was also lovely. Disk 2 includes Spanish Harlem produced by the famous Phil (Wall of Music) Spector. I wasn't as amazed by this recording as I hoped, but it was nice to hear something with Phil Spector's influence. I was pleasantly surprised by Spirit in the Dark. A great example of soul, heavily tilted towards gospel.
If you're not familiar with Aretha's songs and smooth almost perfect voice, this would be a great introduction. If you loved her when you were young, definitely get this CD. You'll be amazed by everything you missed before.
I've only seen this CD at Starbuck's stores or online at Hearmusic.com. If you are shopping at Hearmusic.com, look for this release in their Opus Collection.
Because a listing of the actual tracks aren't easily available online here they are (recording dates in parenthesis):
1. Today I Sing the Blue (8/1/1960)
2. (Blue) By Myself (11/17/1960)
3. All Night Long (11/17/1960)
4. Nobody Like You (1/25/1962)
5. Sweet Lover (11/29/1960)
6. Once in a While (10/09 - 10/10/1963)
7. God Bless the Child (5/11/1962)
8. Muddy Water (2/10/1965)
9. Wont be Long (rel 1961)
10. Soulville (2/08/1964)
11. Runnin' Out of Fools (7/09/1964)
12. Walk On By (10/05 - 10/071964)
13. Mockingbird (10/05 - 10/6/1964)
14. You'll Lose a Good Thing (10/05 - 10/06/1964)
15. Bit of Soul (12/15-12/16/1964)
1. Since You've Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby) (12/16 - 12/17/1967)
2. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (2/16/1967)
3. Chain of Fools (6/23/1967)
4. I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) (1/24/1967)
5. Soul Serenade (2/15/1967)
6. Respect (2/14/1967)
7. Ain't No Way (12/19/1967)
8. I Say a Little Prayer (4/17/1967)
9. Baby, I love You (6/23/1967)
10. Spirit in the Dark (3/10/1970)
11. Rock Steady (2/19/1971)
12. Day Dreaming (2/16/1971)
13. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (1/24/1967)
14. Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do) (9/7/1973)
15. Spanish Harlem (2/16/1971)