Aretha Franklin: The Early Hits

Before she became the Queen of Soul, Franklin sang jazz-related tunes, accompanied on occasion by such as Tyree Glenn and Ray Bryant


This compilation of Aretha Franklin’s early recordings illustrates her involvement in jazz in the period before she was persuaded in November 1966 by Jerry Wexler to sign for Atlantic Records. That move that made her one of the best-known names in soul music and earned her the title “Queen of Soul”.

It’s a valuable collection, showcasing the tracks that established Franklin’s early reputation. It includes her take on It Ain’t Necessarily So and a unique cover of Arlen’s Over The Rainbow that features the talents of Tyree Glenn on trombone and Chauncey “Lord” Westbrook on guitar.

The album also includes tracks from The Electrifying Aretha Franklin. Among them, Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate and Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody yielded her first top 40 hit. All 18 tracks here were recorded between 1960 and 1962 and they include Franklin performing in both orchestral and small-group settings.

This “limited edition” set (why would any record company want to limit its sales?) is presented on 180-gram vinyl in a hot pink colour that will light up any turntable. The sound quality is clear and consistent. If you’re after a broad yet concise look at the other side of Aretha Franklin and an illustration of the continuity in popular music then this record fits the bill.

(1) Operation Heartbreak; (2) Today I Sing The Blues; (3) Won’t Be Long; (4) It Ain’t Necessarily So; (1) I Surrender, Dear; Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody; (5) Rough Lover; It’s So Heartbreakin’; (2) Over The Rainbow; (5) That Lucky Old Sun; Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive; (6) Try A Little Tenderness; Without The One You Love; Don’t Cry, Baby; Lover, Come Back To Me; Trouble In Mind; God Bless The Child; (5) Hard Times (52.13)
Franklin (v, sometimes p) accompanied by:
(1) Orchestra conducted and arranged by Richard Wess. New York, 16 August 1961.
(2) Tyree Glenn (tb); Chauncey “Lord” Westbrook (g); Ray Bryant (p); Bill Lee (b); Osie Johnson (d). New York, 1 August 1960.
(3) Bill Lee (b); Belton “Sticks” Evans (d). New York, 29 November 1960.
(4) Lucky Warren (ts); Chauncey “Lord” Westbrook (g); Ray Bryant (p); Bill Lee (b); Belton “Sticks” Evans (d). New York, 19 December 1960.
(5) as (1) but November 1961-January 1962.
(6) as (1) but April-May 1962.
Waxtime In Color 950738