Aretha Franklin is one of the giants of soul music, and indeed of American pop as a whole. More than any other performer, she epitomized soul at its most gospel-charged. Her astonishing run of late-'60s hits with Atlantic Records "Respect," "I Never Loved a Man," "Chain of Fools," "Baby I Love You," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Think," "The House That Jack Built," and several others earned her the title "Lady Soul," which she has worn uncontested ever since. Yet as much of an international institution as she's become, much of her work outside of her recordings for Atlantic in the late '60s and early '70s is erratic and only fitfully inspired, making discretion a necessity when collecting her records.
This live video, shot in 1985 for the acclaimed PBS music series Soundstage, captures Franklin at her best in a concert at Chicago's Park West club. Hear Aretha sing her great songs, including "Respect", "Freeway of Love", "Think", "Rock Steady", "Didn't It Rain", "Something He Can Feel" and "Jump to It".
The recording of this concert, not released until 1973 and only in Japan, took place on April 10, 1970 at the Carousel Ballroom, where Bill Graham, the legendary west coast impresario of psychedelic rock, had moved his Fillmore Auditorium in 1968. Steve Grossman, who replaced Wayne Shorter, used only the soprano saxophone, an instrument more capable than the tenor of penetrating the wall of sound produced by the decidedly free and powerful rhythm section, which was pervaded by the electronic effects created by Chick Corea’s electric piano. On its first release, the four sides were simply titled “Black Beauty Part 1,” “Part 2,” etc.