January 17: Aretha Franklin released Soul ’69 in 1969

One of her most overlooked ’60s albums, on which she presented some of her jazziest material, despite the title. None of these cuts were significant hits, and none were Aretha originals; she displayed her characteristically eclectic taste in the choice of cover material, handling compositions by Percy Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, and, at the most pop-oriented end of her spectrum, John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” and Bob Lind’s “Elusive Butterfly.”

Her vocals are consistently passionate and first-rate, though, as is the musicianship; besides contributions from the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, session players include respected jazzmen Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Grady Tate, David Newman, and Joe Zawinul.
– Richie Unterberger (allmusic)

Soul ’69 is the sixteenth studio album by Aretha Franklin, Released on 1969 by Atlantic Records. The album charted at #1 on Billboard’s R&B albums chart and at #15 on Billboard’s Top Albums, but launched two largely unsuccessful singles, “Tracks of My Tears”, which reached #21 on “Black Singles” and #71 on “Pop Singles”, and “Gentle on My Mind”, which charted at #50 and #76 respectively. The album was re-released on compact disc through Rhino Records in the 1990s. I love this record.

“quite possibly the best record to appear in the last five years”
– Stanley Booth (Rolling Stone Magazine)

“Ramblin'” (Maybelle Smith)
“Today I Sing the Blues” (Curtis Lewis)
“River’s Invitation” (Percy Mayfield)
“Pitiful” (Rosie Marie McCoy, Charlie Singleton)
“Crazy He Calls Me” (Bob Russell, Carl Sigman)
“Bring It on Home to Me” (Sam Cooke)
“The Tracks of My Tears” (Warren “Pete” Moore, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Tarplin)
“If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody” (Rudy Clark)
“Gentle on My Mind” (John Hartford)
“So Long” (Remus Harris, Irving Melsher, Russ Morgan)
“I’ll Never Be Free” (Bennie Benjamin, George David Weiss)
“Elusive Butterfly” (Bob Lind)

– Hallgeir

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