Album # 32 by the great one needs a few bullet points:
- Her twelfth and final album for Atlantic
- Her late to the party disco album
- Her worst selling Atlantic album ever
- The fifth and final of her albums never given wither a CD release or a streaming release (the mind, in fact boggles)
- “Getting Mighty Crowded”‘s Van McCoy’s final album before his untimely passing
- plus (according to Robert Christgau): arrangements by Richard Gibbs and Arthur Jenkins (rhythm only) and Zulema Cusseaux and Skip Scarborough (rhythm plus orchestration)
The year is 1979 and a year later Aretha Meets Clive Davis and Act III of her career begins in earnest. But in 1979 this didn’t do it for her audience and it’s hard to say why, while it is true Van McCoy was no Arif Mardin (who Clive would include as a producer on Aretha’s first Arista release), the man who wrote “Getting Mighty McCoy” may have been a journeyman r&b guy, he still managed to make the journey.
Till then, La Diva deserves a serious reconsideration, nonstop disco with forays in soul and funk, mountains of horns, McCoy wasn’t the greatest and it has been reported that Aretha didn’t want it released on CD but where else as can you hear Aretha singing back up to Aretha? The second side was sunk by McCoy’s cloying “You Brought Me Back to Life” and superbly sung but essentially under weaned “The Feeling”. But the first side works well, the late great r&b songwriter and singer Lalome Washburn’s “It’s Gonna Get a Bit Better” is a lit, blast of funky brass and barnburning ovals and Aretha’s own “Honey, I Need Your Love” is a lost masterpiece and her voice on the bridge and coda is a moment of sublimity.
Despite the sag on the second side La Diva deserved to have been a successful closer to twelve years of soul magnificence, Atlantic shouldn’t have sold it as a disco album and make people get the impression Franklin was crowding into the sound of the moment and while commercial considerations were commercial considerations, it isn’t a straight up disco album, it is disco plus and a wonderful sound. Bye Bye Atlantic Records
I was happier because I knew I was happy
a snapshot of big hits and high tides, mostly high tides.
There is just a lot to love
the sound seemed to erupt from every side of the room
still on top
“danceable music for the end of days”
contracts its world in Nashisms
let’s take what we are offered
It’s the music, stupid