Friday, August 17, 2018

Lady Soul Power

Well, here we are yet again, on the heels of another bright star in the firmament taking their leave from our rapidly splintering, tailspinning world.
Obviously there has been a great loss that leaves an irreparable void in the musical soundscape of everything, but as we know the only way to memorialize the giants is to play the music, so to that end I am here with the gear.
There isn't anything I can say about her that hasn't already been said or which isn't already being said in the wake of her passing, so I won't try.
You know and I know and everyone knows what she meant to it all and to be honest, no hyperbolic praise or overblown analysis of how there is music before her and music after her -- and that those are two wholly different things -- is either necessary or appropriate.
The only thing that needs to be said is Thank You. And that we -- the people of the Earth whose lives happened at just the right time where they would overlap with the possessors of an unfathomable, limitless artistry such as hers -- are so very, very lucky.
Lucky that we got to be here in this strange and confusing time, in which the musicians and artists were some of the only ones among us that were in a position to tell the utmost truths about us and the condition in which we find ourselves.
Lucky that we were shipwrecked here at a moment when transcendent personalities and true visionaries were around to throw us the lifejacket we so desperately needed.
Lucky that of all the epochs and eras that could have been home to our lifetimes, we got to be alive at the same time as people such as her.
By now you are aware that she is gone, at least from the physical plane. But humans such as she achieve something so unimaginably powerful whilst here that it is no way exaggeration or cliché to say that they will never -- and can never -- really die.
The other day I tributed Maddy Prior, one of the founders of the English folk-rock group Steeleye Span. One of her co-founders of that magical ensemble, the great Ashley Hutchings, once said something about the singer Sandy Denny -- with whom he had spent time in the mother band of such groups, Fairport Convention -- that I feel is apropos for today's grieving process.
He said that our friends are never really dead to us until we have forgotten them, and that Sandy would never die because the things she achieved on Earth were so indelibly unforgettable that she'd always be important to the life of our world.
And so it is with our departed Queen of Soul. There will never be a time, centuries into the future, where someone somewhere is not having their life lit up and their darkness illuminated by the music of Aretha Franklin, and all she inspired in the sounds that followed her coming.
And so it is that we are so inexpressibly lucky that we were a part of the life of this world in a time when she was here to share it -- and her unquantifiably colossal talent -- with us all.
This is hard to write and it's hard to lose these people -- even though, in her case, she lived a pretty long and tremendously productive life -- to the natural cycle of birth and death, whilst the evildoers among us seem to live to be 99 every time.
But at the end of it all, they may be gone but the music endures. We can take our comfort knowing that it's possible to leave behind artifacts of pure excellence -- and to produce a response, borne of beauty and dignity, to the pain and struggle of being alive -- because we have had teachers like Aretha to illustrate the truth in such possibilities.
And for that, all I can say is Thank You.
Aretha Franklin
1968/71

i.
Berns Salonger
Stockholm, Sweden
5.8.1968

01 (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
02 Come Back Baby
03 Dr. Feelgood (Love Is a Serious Business)
04 Since You've Been Gone (Sweet, Sweet Baby)
05 I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)
06 Chain of Fools
07 Respect

Total time: 26:46

Aretha Franklin - vocals & piano
Carolyn Franklin - vocals
Charnessa Jones - vocals
Wyline Ivey - vocals
Jerry Weaver - guitar
Gary Illingworth - piano
George Davidson - drums
Ron Jackson - trumpet
David Squire - baritone saxophone
Donald "Buck" Waldon - tenor saxophone
Donald Townes - trumpet
Little John Wilson - trumpet
Miller Brisker - tenor saxophone
Rene Pitts - trombone
Rodderick Hicks - bass
Russell Conway - trumpet

PAL DVD, with PCM audio, from a 1st gen VHS tape of a 2000 Swedish TV rebroadcast
1.76 GB PAL here
ii.
Montreux Jazz Festival
Casino
Montreux, Switzerland
6.12.1971
first show

01 Soul Serenade (King Curtis)
02 Respect
03 (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
04 I Say a Little Prayer
05 Call Me
06 Brand New Me
07 Share Your Love with Me
08 Don't Play That Song (You Lied)
09 Bridge Over Troubled Water
10 Dr. Feelgood
11 Spirit In the Dark

Total time: 53:42

Aretha Franklin - vocals and piano
King Curtis - saxophones
Cornell Dupree - guitar
Jerry Jemmott - bass
Truman Thomas - organ
Bernard Purdie - drums
Pancho Morales - percussion
Brenda Bryant, Margaret Branch & Pat Smith - vocals & percussion
with The Memphis Horns:
Jack Hale - trombone
Roger Hopps - trumpet
Wayne Jackson - trumpet
Andrew Love - tenor saxophone
Jimmy Mitchell - baritone saxophone

EN remaster of what could be a master or 1st gen reel -- possibly from a film? -- of an original broadcast
308 MB FLAC here
I worked on the Montreux set to liberate the lead vocals from the brassy soup that had been obscuring them, and tidied the whole thing up so it can now circulate in a manner more befitting a Queen.
I shall return in a few days with music that owes Aretha a huge debt -- doesn't it all? -- but for today I wanted to get this up and running because the moment kind of demands it. Keep her in your thoughts and on your playlists and she will never die... and I hope these two gigs will help keep that flame burning.--J.
3.25.1942 - 8.16.2018