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Aretha Franklin’s “With Everything I Feel in Me” Reviewed

It is November 1974 and Atlanta releases Aretha Franklin’s second album of the year and 27th of her career and despite it not maintaining the brand on the pop charts (a high of #57) (and yet to reach streaming services or even CDs that aren’t imported), With Everything I Feel in Me is perhaps her best little known albums during her greatest period. Produced by Franklin and the Atlanta brain trust -Arif Mardin, Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd- it brings Aretha to the heights of modern day pop orchestration (the synth on three tracks, the electric piano on one) while maintaining the quality of songwriting throughout. Two Bacharach and David tracks, one Barry Mann, one Stevie Wonder, and a whole lotta family Franklin songs.

The most telling sound on this series of bangers and disco strobe lights meets MOR pop is Aretha’s soaring ever upward singing in front of four on the floor beats, but a sound that doesn’t have the metallic vibe of disco, yet it isn’t quite r&b or funk, it is, despite not being a success, commercial music with integrity. Recorded in the epicenters of disco -New York and Miami- it promises to teach the kids how it’s done. It would take Donna Summer years to manage the mix and match Aretha performs here. The only question mark is an overblown “You’ll Never Get to Heaven”. “When You Get Right Down to It” and “I Love Every Little Thing About You” are masterclasses in MOR, soul pop whose agenda is soul pop -it is almost color blind, certainly the political slash and burn of both her Gospel and early years secular Atlanta albums, are not necessary. It is the dream of a raceless America, which, while it didn’t stick, sure feels like it might have. The Gospel-y Aretha original and title track is a highlight… actually, it is one long highlight.

If Aretha’s estate had any brains they’d build it into a box set and release it to streaming services, what we have here is a great album that is not well known. If you want to know it, you can stream the entire album at the top.

Grade: A

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