Deep Album Cuts Vol. 114: Aretha Franklin

After Aretha Franklin passed, I was asked to write something for Vulture and did my piece about notable B-sides to Aretha singles. But I still wanted to do my more customary tribute as well with a playlist of deep album cuts. And other than one song and an alternate recording of another song, I ended up with a completely different set of music from a wider range of her discography.

Aretha Franklin deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Good To Me As I Am To You
2. First Snow In Kokomo
3. Dr. Feelgood (Love Is a Serious Business)
4. Without The One You Love
5. If You Don't Think
6. Sister From Texas
7. I Wonder (Where Are You Tonight)
8. School Days
9. He'll Come Along
10. Integrity
11. I Wanna Make It Up To You (with The Four Tops)
12. When You Love Me Like That
13. I Get High
14. When The Battle Is Over
15. It Ain't Fair
16. You're A Sweet Sweet Man
17. I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face
18. Sweet Bitter Love
19. Love Is The Only Thing
20. Night Life
21. Climbing Higher Mountains
22. You Grow Closer

Track 22 from Songs Of Faith (1956)
Track 19 from Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo (1961)
Track 4 from The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging Aretha Franklin (1962)
Track 7 from Laughing On The Outside (1963)
Track 17 from Runnin' Out Of Fools (1964)
Track 18 from Soul Sister (1966)
Track 3 from I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You (1967)
Track 20 from Aretha Arrives (1967)
Track 1 from Lady Soul (1968)
Track 16 from Aretha Now (1968)
Track 15 from This Girl's In Love With You (1970)
Track 14 from Spirit In The Dark (1970)
Track 2 from Young, Gifted And Black (1972)
Track 21 from Amazing Grace (1972)
Track 6 from Hey Now Hey (The Other Side Of The Sky) (1973)
Track 5 from Let Me In Your Life (1974)
Track 13 from Sparkle (1976)
Track 8 from Aretha (1980)
Track 11 from Jump To It (1982)
Track 12 from Get It Right (1983)
Track 10 from Who's Zoomin' Who? (1985)
Track 9 from Aretha (1986)

That's 22 songs from 22 different albums, which I believe breaks my previous record of 21 tracks from 21 Gucci Mane projects. She made over 40 studio albums, so that's still only scratching the surface (with a bit of her classic live album Amazing Grace as well). But I wanted to kind of cover the whole range from the gospel album she made at 14 to her last album that was all over the pop charts, 1986's Aretha (which was also notable for cover art that was Andy Warhol's final work).

I also wanted to highlight Aretha Franklin as a songwriter, since she's rightfully celebrated as a singer and as an interpreter of others' songs but was a great writer as well. She wrote or co-wrote some of her hits -- most notably "Think," "Day Dreaming," "Who's Zoomin' Who," "Call Me," "Spirit In the Dark," "All The King's Horses," and "Sweet Sweet Baby (Since You've Been Gone)." But she wrote a lot of songs that remained relatively overlooked on her albums, so the first half of this playlist is 11 tracks that all have a Franklin writing credit, including some really lovely autobiographical songs like "First Snow In Kokomo." I've spent the last few days obsessed with that "here for the moment, gone forever" refrain from "Sister From Texas."

"Dr. Feelgood" was the one track I reprised from my B-sides piece, which is really an amazing song, and a staple of her concerts, live albums, and early best-of compilations, despite not ever charting or being an A-side. I also included the Soul Sister version of "Sweet Bitter Love" since my Vulture piece covered the re-recording that appeared on a more commercially successful album, Who's Zoomin' Who?, two decades later.

Some of the records I really dug that I hadn't heard much from before were her two Curtis Mayfield-produced albums from the late '70s and her two Luther Vandross-produced albums from the early '80s. She didn't do as well on the charts in that era, arguably because she didn't jump on the disco bandwagon, but she did manage to keep up with the times with some great-sounding music. Curtis Mayfield strings and horns always sound amazing on hip-hop tracks so I wasn't shocked to put on "I Get High" and recognized it from a sample on a Talib Kweli song.

One of my favorite discoveries for this playlist was that Aretha recorded "Night Life," one of the first country hits written by Willie Nelson (first recorded by Ray Price), years before Willie's success as a solo artist. I'm also head over heels in love with Aretha's 1970 recording of "When The Battle Is Over," a song penned by Dr. John and first recorded by Delaney & Bonnie a year earlier. One legendary session drummer, Jim Keltner, came up with a killer rhythm for the Delaney & Bonnie version, and then another legendary session drummer, Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section driving force Roger Hawkins put an incredible spin of his own on the Aretha version, which also features Duane Allman on guitar.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
Vol. 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio
Vol. 71: Fantasia
Vol. 72: Heart
Vol. 73: Pitbull
Vol. 74: Nas
Vol. 75: Monica
Vol. 76: The Cars
Vol. 77: 112
Vol. 78: 2Pac
Vol. 79: Nelly
Vol. 80: Meat Loaf
Vol. 81: AC/DC
Vol. 82: Bruce Springsteen
Vol. 83: Pearl Jam
Vol. 84: Green Day
Vol. 85: George Michael and Wham!
Vol. 86: New Edition
Vol. 87: Chuck Berry
Vol. 88: Electric Light Orchestra
Vol. 89: Chic
Vol. 90: Journey
Vol. 91: Yes
Vol. 92: Soundgarden
Vol. 93: The Allman Brothers Band
Vol. 94: Mobb Deep
Vol. 95: Linkin Park
Vol. 96: Shania Twain
Vol. 97: Squeeze
Vol. 98: Taylor Swift
Vol. 99: INXS
Vol. 100: Stevie Wonder
Vol. 101: The Cranberries
Vol. 102: Def Leppard
Vol. 103: Bon Jovi
Vol. 104: Dire Straits
Vol. 105: The Police
Vol. 106: Sloan
Vol. 107: Peter Gabriel
Vol. 108: Led Zeppelin
Vol. 109: Dave Matthews Band
Vol. 110: Nine Inch Nails
Vol. 111: Talking Heads
Vol. 112: Smashing Pumpkins
Vol. 113: System Of A Down
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