Erma Franklin

Golden Classics

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As the liner notes to this compilation are nothing more than a reprint of some old LP sleeve notes with nothing in the way of dates or recording info, there's no way to confirm when these tracks were recorded or who wrote them. That's an inexcusable shame, but it certainly is the best (if not the only) Erma Franklin CD compilation to appear. The original version of "Piece of My Heart" is here, and is the only song that will be familiar (and usually in the Janis Joplin cover version, at that) to most listeners. Most of the rest, however, is quality overlooked soul with a slight uptown feel, not all that much like her famous sister Aretha's work. At a guess the tracks seem to originate from a multi-year time span covering the early to late '60s; "Don't Catch the Dog's Bone" is first-rate blues-soul, while "Open Up Your Soul" does recall the kind of material Aretha Franklin cut in 1967. Other cuts obviously date from a slightly earlier period with their pop-soul arrangements (such as "Abracadabra"), though these are decent too. The covers of R&B standards ("Pledging My Love") and supperclub-ish material ("Detour Ahead") are unremarkable, but fortunately they're in the minority on this anthology. Now if someone could take the essence of this disc and give the package the annotation and design it deserves, Franklin's legacy would be much better served.

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