Fontella Bass

Free (The Paula Recordings)

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If Fontella Bass' "Rescue Me" is the best soul single that Aretha Franklin never made, then Free is the lost classic that deserves space in any record collection housing worn-out copies of the Queen of Soul's I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You and Spirit in the Dark. Reuniting Bass with producer Oliver Sain, who helmed her classic mid-'60s sides for Chess, Free draws on the singer's gospel roots to forge a deeply spiritual and moving examination of post-civil rights America. Cuts like "To Be Free," "Talking About Freedom," and "My God, My Freedom, My Home" showcase the remarkable power and poignancy of Bass' vocals, couched beautifully by Sain's nuanced, blues-inspired arrangements. This excellent, well-annotated reissue includes the original 1972 Free LP in its entirety along with four bonus tracks -- excellent stuff from a singer unjustly dismissed as a one-hit wonder.

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