Aretha Franklin has simply been one of the greatest singers of the modern generation, and whether bringing her powerful, passionate voice to bear on gospel standards, songs from the Great American Songbook, jazz standards, pop ditties, or deep Southern soul and R&B, she has always had the presence – much like Ray Charles – to make anything she touches unmistakably hers. Franklin began her career in gospel when she was still a teenager, and her amazing vocal talents, coupled with her fine piano playing, marked her as a once-in-a-lifetime kind of artist, qualities very apparent to legendary talent scout John Hammond, who signed her to Columbia Records.
This 16-track, 72-and-a-half-minute compilation contains Deniece Williams' two number one pop/R&B hits, "Let's Hear It for the Boy" and "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" (a duet with Johnny Mathis), as well as her remake of "It's Gonna Take a Miracle," an R&B number one and Top Ten pop hit, and "Free," which just missed the top of the R&B chart and made the pop Top 40. Otherwise, the collection is somewhat idiosyncratic, compilation producer Leo Sacks' idea of Williams' best, rather than her greatest hits. Her success on the R&B singles chart, where she scored 18 Top 40 hits, is shortchanged, as the set fails to contain such major R&B hits as "Never Say Never" and "You're All I Need to Get By…"
Marlena Shaw has been a consistently popular soul and jazz artist wordwide for over four decades thanks to anthems like "Woman Of The Ghetto" and "California Soul ". Originally released in 1979, "Take A Bite" was her third and final album for Columbia Records but unlike its predecessors, the first part of the original LP had a specific musical concept and construct. Working with highly successful disco producers Meco Menardo and Tony Bongiovi (with hits by Gloria Gaynor, etc.) and respected musical arranger/producer Harold Wheeler, the first six tracks were created as a non-stop dance music extravaganza, "Suite Seventeen," strung together with a disco reading of Frank Sinatra's "It Was A Very Good Year" and one of Marlena's famous monologues ("I'm A Foster Child").