Aretha Franklin

Sings Standards

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Between 1963 and 1965, before she became the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin recorded six albums for Columbia Records, where she'd been signed by legendary talent scout John Hammond Sr. These albums were significantly different from her later work; Hammond saw her as a jazz singer with gospel roots, and the albums, characterized by polished arrangements (albeit with concessions to the pop market) mostly recall the blues divas of the '40s and '50s.

SINGS STANDARDS is a nicely put-together sampler of Aretha's Columbia work, and although you can hear hints of the style she would develop later in the decade, here she's working very much as a sort of Dinah Washington wannabe--not a bad thing, to be sure, but not the astonishing original she later became. Think of the songs here as cute aural baby pictures.

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