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Aretha Franklin – ‘The Queen in Waiting: The Columbia Years 1960 – 1965’ vinyl review

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The mark that Aretha Franklin left on music is undeniable. Dubbed ‘The Queen of Soul’, Franklin enjoyed a lengthy career starting in 1960 and ending in 2017, shortly before her death in 2018. When most people think of Franklin, they bring her biggest hits to mind such as ‘Respect’, ‘Think’ or ‘Chain of Fools’ but she recorded, and released, a lot of music before those songs transformed her into the icon we remember her as. ‘The Queen in Waiting’ is a compilation that spans 1960 to 1965, the very beginning of Franklin’s career when she was signed to Columbia Records.

This 3-LP release marks the first time this compilation has been made available on vinyl. Limited to 2000 copies pressed on 180-gram gold and black marbled vinyl, this release really is one of the highest quality products I’ve seen from Music on Vinyl. The outer sleeve has a really nice feel to it and the three printed inner sleeves are a really nice touch. It’s a classy package that perfectly, and lovingly, honours one of the greatest vocalists of all-time.

Across the 3 LPs there are 40 tracks that serve to show you just who Franklin was when she started out in the music business. Listening to them now, it’s remarkable that the music contained here didn’t catapult her into a global star at the time. That didn’t happen until the 1967 when she signed with Atlantic Records. ‘The Queen in Waiting: The Columbia Years 1960 – 1965’ showcases Franklin’s incredible range as a vocalist and her ability to make any song sound like her own. Opening with ‘Nobody Like You’, you can’t help but crank up the volume as Franklin effortlessly unleashes the power of her remarkable voice.

It’s testament to Franklin’s talent that there isn’t a dud song here. Not many 40 track collections can say that but this one most certainly can. I could spend this review talking about every track, and believe me they deserve that time and attention, but the sake of brevity I’ll pick out some of the highlights. ‘Once in a While’ is a great example of the depth of soul that poured out of Franklin. Every single word is sung with intention and she packs more emotion into one word than a great deal of today’s singers manage in an entire song.

Tracks such as ‘Evil Gal Blues’ and ‘Runnin’ Out of Fools’ showcase Franklin’s sassier side, while her versions of ‘Walk On By’ and ‘God Bless the Child’ should be considered among the best recorded. Two versions of the jazz standard ‘Skylark’, which appeared on Franklin’s fourth album ‘Laughing on the Outside’, are included here and it’s the original version that you’ll have on repeat as Franklin hits impossible heights with her vocals.

Other highlights include the mid-tempo soul of ‘Cry Like a Baby’, the light jazz of the gorgeous ‘Only the Lonely’, and Franklin’s unique take on ‘Mockingbird’ that allows her voice to ad-lib and climb up and down scales, seemingly with ease.

‘The Queen in Waiting: The Columbia Years 1960 – 1965’ is the definitive guide to Franklin’s early years and it’s a fantastic collection for fans old and new. There’ll be many familiar songs here, some you may not even have realised Franklin recorded, and there are plenty of gems to discover too. Franklin has an incredible catalogue of music but these 40 tracks are truly something special.

Track list: Side One – 1. Nobody Like You 2. Once In A While 3. Maybe I’m A Fool 4. Muddy Water 5. Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home? (Alternate Version) 6. Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I) 7. Today I Sing The Blues 8. Won’t Be Long Side Two – 1. Nobody Knows The Way I Feel This Morning 2. Evil Gal Blues 3. Lee Cross 4. Walk On By 5. I Wonder (Where Are You Tonight) 6. God Bless The Child Side Three – 1. Blue Holiday 2. Looking Through A Tear 3. Tiny Sparrow 4. Here Today And Gone Tomorrow 5. Little Brown Book 6. Without The One You Love 7. This Bitter Earth Side Four 1. Just For A Thrill 2. Skylark 3. Skylark (Alternate Version) 4. Trouble In Mind 5. Runnin’ Out Of Fools 6. Drinking Again Side Five 1. Laughing On The Outside (Crying On The Inside) 2. What A Diff’rence A Day Made 3. Soulville 4. You’ll Lose A Good Thing 5. Take A Look 6. Cry Like A Baby 7. I Wish I Didn’t Love You So Side Six 1. Only The Lonely 2. People 3. Mockingbird 4. Until You Were Gone 5. My Coloring Book 6. Try A Little Tenderness Record label: Music on Vinyl Release date: 28th April 2023 Buy ‘Aretha Franklin – ‘The Queen in Waiting: The Columbia Years 1960 – 1965’ now

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