1968, Music

Aretha Now (1968) by Aretha Franklin

Listening to this without thinking about context, I’m tempted to call it a near classic. But then I looked up my review of Lady Soul and remembered how great I thought that one was…

Aretha Now gets off to a great start with “Think,” one of her most dynamic and insistent tracks. But even though the cover of “I Say a Little Prayer” has grown on me – though it’s a little overdone at times – and some of the other covers are pretty good, this record lacks the sheer consistency and potency of the previous one.

That’s not to say it’s bad or weak or anything; had she not put out Lady Soul before it, I think I would be pretty damn impressed. (I was pretty damn impressed until I remembered Lady Soul.) But I think this isn’t quite as consistent material-wise.

Performance-wise there is little to criticize, of course. Franklin remains a talented and compelling vocalist (duh). And even at this stage of her career, she was still raw enough, vocally, to sound like she belongs at Stax. (And if you look at those credits, you’ll see Stax songwriters and even a performer.) The arrangements are often fairly sparse, which is always a good thing. The only thing I’d say in criticism is that occasionally they try to match Franklin’s voice, and when they try to do that, it seems unnecessary.


  1. “Think” (Aretha Franklin, Ted White) 2:19
  2. “I Say a Little Prayer” (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) 3:36
  3. “See Saw” (Don Covay, Steve Cropper) 2:46
  4. “Night Time Is the Right Time” (Big Bill Broonzy) 4:50
  5. “You Send Me” (Sam Cooke) 2:29
  6. “You’re a Sweet Sweet Man” (Ronnie Shannon) 2:19
  7. “I Take What I Want” (Isaac Hayes, Teenie Hodges, David Porter) 2:33
  8. “Hello Sunshine” (Jimmy Cliff, King Curtis, Ronald Dean Miller) 3:03
  9. “A Change” (Dorian Burton, Clyde Otis) 2:27
  10. “I Can’t See Myself Leaving You” (Shannon) 3:01
  • Aretha Franklin – lead vocals (all), piano (1-5, 7, 10)
  • Spooner Oldham – organ (1, 5), electric piano (3, 6, 7, 10), piano (8)
  • Tommy Cogbill – guitar (1-3, 10), bass (6, 8, 9)
  • Jimmy Johnson – guitar (1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10)
  • Bobby Womack – guitar (6, 8, 9)
  • Jerry Jemmott – bass (1-5, 7, 10)
  • Roger Hawkins – drums (all)
  • The Sweet Inspirations – background vocals (all)
  • Carolyn Franklin – background vocals (6, 8, 9)
  • Horns:
    • Wayne Jackson – trumpet
    • Charlie Chalmers – tenor saxophone
    • Andrew Love – tenor saxophone
    • Floyd Newman – baritone saxophone
    • Willie Bridges – baritone saxophone (1, 3-5, 7, 10)
    • Bernie Glow – trumpet
    • Melvin Lastie – trumpet
    • Joe Newman – trumpet
    • Tony Studd – bass trombone
    • King Curtis – tenor saxophone
    • Seldon Powell – tenor saxophone
    • Frank Wess – tenor saxophone, flute
    • Haywood Henry – baritone saxophone (6, 8)
    • All arrangements by Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin

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