Results for Aretha Franklin

interviews

Spooner Oldham

Despite its location in a relatively obscure part of the South, Muscle Shoals, Alabama was home to some of the greatest studio musicians of the 1960's and 1970's. One of those pros was our guest Spooner Oldham, keyboardist and songwriter at FAME Studios. Spooner played piano and organ on hits like "Steal Away" by Jimmy Hughes and Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman." Pretty soon, record executives from the North were sending artists down to record with the excellent house band at FAME. Spooner provided the drive behind Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally," and even rescued a stagnating Aretha Franklin session by coming up with the iconic keyboard line for "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)."

Along with his collaborator Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham wrote huge hits like "Cry Like a Baby" by The Box Tops and "I'm Your Puppet" by James & Bobby Purify. After leaving Muscle Shoals, he played with Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bobby Womack, and more, and continues to perform with acts like Cat Power and Drive-By Truckers. In 1972, Spooner recorded his own album Pot Luck. It was largely forgotten except by cult record collectors, but now is being honored with an overdue reissue from Light in the Attic.

Go to episode 515

Bernard“Pretty”Purdie

Bernard Purdie

In the 1960s and '70s, Bernard“Pretty”Purdie was one of the most prolific session drummers out there, laying down the beat for Steely Dan, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Al Kooper, Nina Simone, Hall & Oates, Miles Davis and hundreds more. His distinctive style, known as the“Purdie Shuffle,”has influenced generations of drummers, but has been frequently sampled in hip hop since the 1980s. Sound Opinions producer Ayana Contreras spoke with Purdie about his career and contributions to popular music.

Go to episode 652

Low Cut Connie

Philadelphia rock ‘n’ rollers Low Cut Connie was founded in 2010 by lead singer and pianist Adam Weiner and drummer and guitarist Dan Finnemore. They later added musicians James Everhart, Will Donnelly and Larry Scotton to round out their 1950s-influenced, signature sound. A key element of their music is the use of a piano to pound out some raunchy, rock tunes and make people get up and dance. They've released three albums so far: Get Out the Lotion, Call Me Sylvia and Hi Honey. Even President Obama is a fan, he put the group's song "Boozophilia" on his summertime Spotify playlist alongside artists like Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. The band visited our studio a few weeks ago where Greg and Jim asked them about how they first formed, their career ups-and-downs and singer Adam Weiner's experience with the TV show The Voice.

Go to episode 519
specials

Remembering Aretha Franklin

Aretha On Thursday, August 16, Aretha Franklin,“The Queen of Soul,”died at the age of 76 in Detroit, her hometown. As an 18-time Grammy recipient, the first woman to be inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and one of the best-selling artists of all time, Franklin's achievements are staggering. But her legacy can't be quantified by mere numbers: Her remarkable discography—defined by that stunning four-octave voice—included songs that became anthems for social change. Gospel critic Anthony Heilbut once asserted that Franklin's role in the Civil Rights Movement was such that“a history of black America could well be divided into pre- and post-Aretha.”Jim and Greg trace her extraordinary career, from her start singing in Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church (where her father was a star preacher) to being signed with Columbia and Atlantic Records, to zeitgeist-defining performances at the 1998 Grammy Awards, Barack Obama's 2009 Presidential Inauguration, and the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors.

Go to episode 664

1967

Not to make you feel old, but it's been 45 years since the "Summer of Love," the year of the hippie, and some of the most influential music in rock history. So Jim and Greg have decided to look back at the watershed year 1967. Television viewers were treated to memorable performances by The Who, The Doors and The Rolling Stones. Aretha Franklin recorded her famous Atlantic release "Respect." Fans from around the country gathered in California for the Monterey International Pop Music Festival. But during this episode Jim and Greg focus on the single LP's that changed the way people thought of the studio and a collection of songs. 1967 gave birth to the idea of album as art.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band is, of course, the most prominent example of studio innovation on album in '67. Recorded at Abbey Road by George Martin on mono, stereo and four-track recorders, Sgt. Pepper's was a critical and commercial success. But, as they stated during our Revolver Classic Album Dissection, Jim and Greg don‘t think it’s The Beatles‘ best. Nor is it the best album of that year. They’d point people to the landmark recordings The Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd, Forever Changes by Love and The Velvet Underground and Nico by The Velvet Underground. Jim and Greg talk about these albums' innovations in terms of recording and artistic ambition. They also hear from Joe Boyd, who produced Pink Floyd's first single in 1967 and Jac Holzman, who discovered Love and signed them to Elektra.

Go to episode 323

1967

Recently Jim and Greg began an exploration of one of the great watershed years in Rock and Roll: 1967. First up was the birth of the album as art. Now, they look at the growth of the live music business and the industry, for better or worse, growing up. There's no better example of this maturation than the Monterey International Pop Festival. For 3 days in June, thousands of music fans descended on Monterey, California to see The Mamas and the Papas, Jefferson Airplane, The Who and the spectacular debuts of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. They worked for free, with ticket proceeds going to charity, but the capitalist machine was not far behind. As Jim and Greg discuss with writer Harvey Kubernick, managers, promoters and label executives took notice of the festival's popularity and media attention, leading to new signings and savvy marketing plans. In terms of sound, the Monterey performers encapsulated the diversity of the psychedelic era. Rock, funk, jazz, country-it was all up for grabs. And artists like Otis Redding introduced a southern sound to white audiences, paving the way for landmark recordings like Aretha Franklin's I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You.

Go to episode 325
classic album dissections

Aretha Franklin Amazing Grace

It's a big year for Aretha Franklin. The“Queen of Soul”just turned 70, and her bestselling album, Amazing Grace, turns 40 this June. No, you won't find megahits like "Respect" or "Think " on Amazing Grace's track list, but this 1972 album of gospel covers influenced rock and rollers as diverse as the Rolling Stones and U2, and transformed gospel as we know it. In honor of the anniversary, Jim and Greg do a classic album dissection of Amazing Grace. They're joined by Aaron Cohen, Downbeat editor and author of a book on Amazing Grace for the 33 1/3 series. Everything Aretha did in this era, Aaron explains, she did in a big way. Her return to gospel music after over a decade in the pop wilderness was no exception. The record was recorded live at a Baptist church in Watts, Los Angeles over two days. Gospel luminaries including singer Clara Ward and Aretha's father, the Reverand CL Franklin, were in the audience (as were the Stones' Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger). Freed from the constraints of cutting a three-minute single, Franklin takes her time on Amazing Grace, stretching songs and combining them in surprising medleys. But the real magic of the album, Aaron contends, comes from the combination of Aretha's voice with that of Reverend James Cleveland's Southern California Community Choir. This combination of star soloist and choir became standard in gospel music from this point forward.

As always with classic album dissections, Jim and Greg choose their own tracks from Amazing Grace to highlight. Jim goes with "Precious Lord (Take My Hand)/You've Got a Friend," a medley that melds a classic gospel tune with Carole King's decidedly secular pop hit. Greg chooses "How I Got Over," a Clara Ward cover that, he explains, was closely associated with the ongoing civil rights movement.

Go to episode 332
reviews
Rated R: RemixedRated R available on iTunes

Rihanna Rated R

Jim and Greg review two new albums-are they triumphs or turkeys? First up is Rated R, the 4th album from Rihanna. The pop singer blew up in 2007 with her song "Umbrella." She was recently in the news for an incident with boyfriend Chris Brown. While Brown was being sentenced for felony assault, Rihanna began working on Rated R. The result, for Greg, is surprisingly a record of substance. While Rihanna didn‘t write the songs, they are haunting and seem to directly address her abusive relationship. He never expected to say it, but Greg thinks this is one of the best records of the year. Jim agrees. He won’t go so far as to compare the pop star to the towering voices of Mary J. Blige and Aretha Franklin, but Jim thinks Rated R is a record of empowerment. It gets a double Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 209
The Bravest Man In the Universe (Expanded Edition)The Bravest Man in the Universe available on iTunes

Bobby Womack The Bravest Man in the Universe

Like Patti Smith, Bobby Womack's got a storied musical history. He played with Sam Cooke in the sixties, was a session musician for Aretha Franklin and Sly Stone, and finally made a name for himself as a solo artist with classic R&B albums like Communication and The Facts of Life in the seventies. Unfortunately addiction dragged him down and by the nineties Womack was a musical nonentity. With The Bravest Man in the Universe, Womack announces his comeback. He's cleaned up and is working with producer Damon Albarn of Blur. Womack and Albarn have played it smart, Jim says, by not living in the past. The electronic soul tracks Albarn's created for Womack don't sound vintage in the slightest. The themes might be familiar - Womack sings from the point of view of a man who done wrong - but the music is challenging and fresh. Greg agrees. While he wishes Albarn and Womack hadn't turned over quite so many tracks to guests like Lana Del Rey, he's loving Womack's sandpapery voice. Double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 345
lists

Rock's Best Lead-Off Tracks

This week's show is dedicated to the true rock geeks out there. Continuing in the tradition of "Track 1, Side 1" Jim and Greg take the discussion into the post-vinyl age. What songs best kick-off an album? Here are their picks for the best Lead-Off Tracks of all time:

Go to episode 92

“I Want You Back”for Valentine's Day

When candy, flowers, and love notes fail to woo your sweetie back, there's only one thing left to do: stake out under a window, hold up that boom box and blast an“I Want You Back”song. This Valentine's Day, Jim and Greg present their favorite Pleading Songs.

Go to episode 376
features

In Memoriam: Rick Hall

Rick Hall Greg pays tribute to the late Rick Hall, a producer and owner at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. There, he worked with legendary artists like The Staple Singers, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and more. Hall died in early January at the age of 85. Greg chose to play Wilson Pickett's cover of The Beatles' "Hey Jude," which also featured a young Duane Allman on guitar. He thinks it's a great example of Hall's producing prowess and the kind of music he oversaw in Muscle Shoals.

Go to episode 633
news

Music News

Whitney Houston is just the latest in a series of deceased musicians who have been made into holograms in order to tour around the world. Other famous holograms include Tupac, Buddy Holly, Liberace and Roy Orbison but this isn't anything new for the entertainment industry. For years, images of Elvis Presley and even Frank Sinatra were shown in concerts singing along with a live band and performers. And while the joke is that death is a great career move, Jim finds it interesting that it is no longer an impediment to touring. Who would you like to see as a hologram or do you think the whole thing is just too weird?

Back in 1972, Aretha Franklin recorded one of the great gospel albums of all time, Amazing Grace. In 2012, Jim and Greg even did a Classic Album Dissection on the live record because it was so good and so iconic. Famous director Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, Out of Africa) filmed the concert back in the '70s and now more than 40 years later, two major film festivals were finally supposed to show the movie. However, Aretha took legal action to block the film festivals from presenting it. Apparently she loves the film but Greg suspects this whole thing has something to do with money. This one may drag on, but Greg and Jim really hope that they sort things out because this is a true piece of musical history.

Go to episode 512

Music News

The RIAA sues people with such frequency that Jim and Greg aren't always able to keep up. But, when one defendant, Tanya Andersen of Oregon, not only won her case, but forced the Recording Industry to pay up, Jim and Greg took notice. After being sued for copyright infringement, Anderson undertook the long battle of defending herself, followed by a countersuit against the RIAA. Now a year after being ordered to pay for her court bills, the RIAA has finally paid up, with interest.

Campaign ads have been making a lot of headlines recently, and as Jim notes, with those ads comes the inevitable music-related lawsuit. The musician this time around is Jackson Browne. The famously liberal singer/songwriter is suing both Republican candidate John McCain, as well as the Republican National Committee for copyright infringement. The song "Running On Empty" was featured in a campaign ad that mocks Barack Obama's energy conservation plans. Browne is not only seeking financial damages, but also an apology. Since Browne's political leanings are so well-documented, Jim and Greg are concerned about any politician that hasn't mastered the art of Google.

Next up Jim and Greg honor music producer Jerry Wexler, who died recently at the age of 91. Wexler helped put Atlantic Records on the map. While Atlantic colleague Ahmet Ertegun was the shiny face of the label, Wexler was the behind-the-scenes mover and shaker according to Greg. Jim adds that he was one of the last of a generation of“men with ears,”meaning that Wexler's ability to find and foster talent was an art in itself. Perhaps Wexler's greatest find was Aretha Franklin. He helped the singer really shine on tracks like "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)."

Go to episode 143

Music News

Soul Train host and creator Don Cornelius died tragically this week at age 75. Greg remembers the baritone-voiced Chicago native as not just a music pioneer, but a civil rights one. He broadened what we think of as“soul”and brought acts like Curtis Mayfield, David Bowie and Aretha Franklin to audiences of all races and ages. What American Bandstand was to pop culture in the '60s, Soul Train and Cornelius were to the '70s, '80s, and beyond. So to remember Don Cornelius, we play Barry White's 1975 orchestral performance of "You're My First, the Last, My Everything."

Go to episode 323

Music News

2016 continues to be an awful year for musical deaths, and we've had four more in recent weeks. First, we lost Leon Russell, the famous session player and solo artist who recorded with a diverse roster of artists from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin. The pianist and singer-songwriter Mose Allison also died recently at 89. Allison blended country blues and bebop and influenced rock musicians from Randy Newman to Pete Townshend. Though less of a household name, archivist Billy Miller also made great contributions to rock music. As co-founder of Norton Records, he brought much needed attention to neglected artists like Hasil Adkins, Link Wray, and The Sonics.

Leonard Cohen But the most significant loss was Leonard Cohen. The Canadian singer-songwriter established himself on the New York scene with his debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967. That record provided inspiration to filmmaker Robert Altman on his 1971 anti-western McCabe & Mrs. Miller, a collaboration that Greg feels is a key part of Cohen's career. Cohen's records, however, were often ill-served by overproduction, with his voice pushed to the rear. It took interpretations bu other artists to bring the songs to their full potential, most notably on the many covers of his most famous tune "Hallelujah," from John Cale to Jeff Buckley to Kate McKinnon on SNL. But remarkably, Cohen figured things out toward the end of his life. He played countless shows in the past decade and released some of the strongest albums of his career in his seventies and eighties. In fact, for the uninitiated listener, Jim and Greg recommend beginning with his 2009 Live in London album featuring his greatest songs in new, tighter arrangements.

Go to episode 573

Music News

Jim and Greg have been predicting this shift on Sound Opinions for years, but according to a new study, by 2010 digital sales will have eclipsed physical sales. Right now 65% of music sales are still compact discs, but the trend is going down quickly. Plus most of the CDs are sold at big box stores like Walmart, Targetand Best Buy. Anyone who has shopped at those places recently knows that the selection is not always impressive.

Last week guitar legend Les Paul died at the age of 94. Paul was a guitar innovator, best known for developing multi-track recording. He and his wife Mary Ford had many hits, and Paul influenced the next generation's guitar greats like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Beck, in particular, was very close with Paul. He was not only influenced by Paul's multi-tracking, but also his tone, which Greg explains was singing, sustained and steeped in melody. You can hear the influence in the 1968 track "Beck's Bolero."

Another obituary in the news is that of producer Jim Dickinson. His death hasn‘t gotten as much attention as Paul’s but Jim and Greg were very sad to hear of his passing. Dickinson recorded such artists as Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Ry Cooder. He grew up in Chicago, but was really known as a Memphis producer. Jim and Greg both talked with Dickinson a number of times, and remember him as a great man and a living encyclopedia of music. To remember him they play Big Star's "Thank You Friends," which Dickinson produced in 1975.

Go to episode 195