Essentials: Aretha Franklin ‘I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You’

This is the album that made Aretha Franklin the undisputed Queen of Soul back in 1967, a title she never relinquished throughout her stellar career.

Aretha Franklin‘s early albums were consciously crafted examples of hit-making, but her landmark album from 1967 contains one of the most heartfelt soul recordings ever made, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You). Jerry Wexler, the Executive Vice President of Atlantic Records is known to have said he worked with only three musical geniuses in his lifetime: Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, and Aretha. For the liner notes of the album, Wexler has this to say regarding the recording sessions which were held both in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and Atlantic’s studios in New York:

“Every time Aretha began a song, the musicians would shake their heads in wonder. After each take was completed, they would rush from the studio into the control room to hear the playback. Producers, engineers and musicians alike were entranced by Aretha‘s purity of tone, her tremendous feeling for inspired variation and her unparalleled dynamics.”

He then went further to say:

“The stimulation and the fire that lit up the musicians and the studio people had not burned so free and joyous at Atlantic since our great early years when we were recording Ray Charles.”

The album begins with the Otis Redding classic “Respect”. Upon hearing Aretha’s version, Otis acknowledged with rueful irony that “she stole my song”.

One key factor in Aretha’s vocals that remains seldom discussed: she was a superb pianist, classically trained, with an exquisite sense of dynamics. On many of her records, particularly her early ones, she accompanied herself on the piano while singing, a feat which is seldom attempted and which rarely succeeds. In Aretha’s case, her mastery of the piano led to the sheer beauty and creative artistry in her vocal work.

Album release ~ 1967 via Atlantic Records SD8139

Recording Engineers: Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin

Arranged and directed by Tom Dowd ~ Produced by Jerry Wexler

Brian Miller

Brian Miller is the Publisher and Editor of Vivascene, which he founded in 2010. A former record store owner, business executive and business writer, he is devoted to vinyl records, classical guitar, and b&w photography.

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