From The Archives

Looking Back to Say Goodbye to the ‘Queen of Soul’

The Voice covered many aspects of Aretha Franklin’s remarkable career, and below we reprint a pair of reviews separated by two decades

by

In 1967 music and pop culture critic Richard Goldstein admitted in his Pop Eye column that he was “only a reluctant connoisseur of rhythm and blues.” After mentioning Percy Sledge, Otis Redding — check out the ad for Redding’s concert on the page — Lou Rawls, and others, he writes, “Then there is Aretha Franklin. She drops notes on me like a raincloud.” He also muses on the buoyant effect the “Queen of Soul” could have on him, one that just about anyone with a pair of ears can relate to in their own way: “Even when I’ve heard ‘Respect’ 50 times, it picks me up at 5 a. m. when I’m washed out with a stubborn article, and watching the streetlights go out.” Like many who have marveled at Franklin’s pipes, he says that he would sometimes “lie back and try to figure out how something so reverent could also be filthy and wonderful.” 

Fast-forward to 1985 and Carol Cooper compares Tina “Queen of Rock” Turner’s Private Dancer album to Franklin’s Who’s Zoomin’ Who release, noting a “difference in perspective almost as extreme as that between Robert Johnson and Marvin Gaye.” Cooper covers not only the soaring sonics of Franklin’s artistry — “Even in the throes of unrequited desire, Aretha’s creamy vibrato insinuates an inexorable will to win” — but also points out the political and social aspects of both albums, the way in which each “provides 360 degrees of insight into the human condition, which has always been black music’s only stock in trade.”

Most Popular