Monday, January 23, 2012

Deep Cuts: Aretha Franklin - Border Song ( Holy Moses) 1972

Soul music may have no better A-side in 1972 than Aretha Franklin's Grammy Award winning Young Gifted and Black, released 40 years ago this week. Side One includes the US Top 5 pop song "Daydreaming" , the Top 10  "Rock Steady" ( featuring cowbell from Dr John), and the Nina Simone-penned title track. A five star album in the first two versions of Rolling Stone Record Guide, it may have fallen from favor because Franklin's improvisation exercises clearly inspired the histrionics we've all had to endure from the likes of Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey.

The last track on the album takes the Elton John/Bernie Taupin song "Border Song" to church. The Sweet Inspirations- the same backing vocal group who sang on Aretha's Atlantic recordings-bhelp the Queen drench the tune in a gospel-soul. Then there's the exquisite guitar solo by the late Cornell DuPree. Finally, Aretha changes just one line, but to great effect, asking "Can we live in peace?" ( instead of "let us live in peace").

What a question for our times.

This was just part of Aretha's spiritual-journey-on-record that would lead , only six months later, to the masterpiece Amazing Grace, recorded with the Reverend James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir.

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