There may be a few contenders for the title of Queen of Soul through the annals of music, but if there’s one name that’s always going to come up in everyone’s short list, it’s Aretha Franklin.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 25, 1942, Aretha’s father, C.L. Franklin, was a minister, thereby putting her in close proximity to choirs literally from the day she was born, but his success as a sermonizer earned him a certain degree of celebrity, resulting in close encounters with such gospel singers as Mahalia Jackson and James Cleveland, more secular performers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, and even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It’s arguable that Aretha’s ascent to the throne started when she was 10 years old, as that’s when she took her first solo at New Bethel Church in Buffalo, New York, tackling the hymn “Jesus, Be a Fence around Me,” but the real rise didn’t begin until 1960, when she “went secular,” as it were, and signed to Columbia Records. Aretha’s first single for the label, “Today I Sing the Blues,” hit the top 10 of the R&B charts. Not a bad start.
Today marks 16 years since Beach Boys guitarist and vocalist Carl Wilson, the man who sang lead on Paul McCartney’s favorite song of all time (that’d be “God Only Knows,” of course), went silent.
There’s no denying that Dennis Wilson’s death in 1983 hit Beach Boys fans hard – not only did he die, but Dennis was the only real surfer in the band, and he drowned, for God’s sake – but the loss of Carl, the realization that his sweet, haunting voice was gone for good…well, that’s a tough pill to swallow even now.
Carl’s vocal legacy extended well beyond the Beach Boys: over the years, he accumulated a significant number of credits as a backing vocalist as well. Granted, sometimes he was asked to chime in on a Beach Boys cover, as with David Lee Roth’s take on “California Girls,” while other times it was just to help add a general California-type vibe to a track, like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Hung Up and Overdue.” Mostly, though, it was just because he had a great voice…and even after 16 years, that voice is still missed.
It’s probably just coincidence, but we can’t help but notice that the week that’s brought the news that the Cure will soon be releasing a new album – reportedly to be entitled 4:14 Scream, a nod to the fact that it was recorded during the same sessions as their last album, 2008’s 4:13 Dream – just so happens to be the same week when, in 1980, the band’s compilation album Boys Don’t Cry first hit record store shelves in th
As you may have seen on Friday, we’re going to be putting out the entire Depeche Mode back catalog on 180-gram vinyl throughout the winter and spring. Just in case you missed the memo, though, we wanted to make sure you knew that the roll-out process was officially kicked off yesterday with an in-no-way shabby quartet of albums: Some Great Reward (1984), Black Celebration (1986), Music for the Masses (1987), and Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993).
Not that we wouldn’t recommend getting them all, but if you had to pick just one of ‘em…well, honestly, it’s pretty tough to narrow down the best of the bunch, so how about if we give you a quick nutshell synopsis of all four albums and let you make the call.
Hey sport, how about we jet back to the 1950s? It was a simpler time, filled with crew cuts and the constant fear of atomic annihilation. Oh, and the music was pretty good too. There was rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, folk, doo-wop and spoken word by Jack Webb. (That last one is a genre unto itself.) Enjoy, hep cats!
In honor of Otis's newly released four-disc set, THE KING OF SOUL, we asked budding filmmakers, animators, and super soul fiends to create official videos for some of Otis's most beloved songs. The entries were so good, we couldn't pick just one. Now we're calling on you to help us crown a winner. Sharpen your voting skills here.