Essential Atlantic: Aretha Franklin, LADY SOUL
Twelve albums in, and Aretha Franklin was still at the peak of her powers. Just two years into her contract with Atlantic Records, Franklin had already scored a pair of hit albums--I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You and Aretha Arrives, both released in 1967.
For her 1968 follow-up, Franklin and producer Jerry Wexler convened in the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with an incredible cast of supporting players. Among them: Eric Clapton, Bobby Womack, Cissy Houston and the Sweet Inspirations.
Released on January 22, 1968, Lady Soul would be an immediate hit. The album soared up the charts, peaking at #2 on the Billboard 200 on March 15, 1968. The #1 album that week: Blooming Hits by Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra.
Lady Soul was packed with hits, starting with lead single, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Co-written with Carole King, Gerry Goffen and Wexler, the track would make a strong move on the Hot 100, climbing as high as #8 on November 4, 1967.
The second single from Lady Soul: another instant classic, "Chain of Fools." Originally written by Don Covay with Otis Redding in mind, Wexler quickly snatched it up for Franklin after hearing it. The song went to #1 on the R&B chart and peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 on January 19, 1968. The #1 song: "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)" by John Fred and the Playboys.
The third Lady Soul single was a two-for-one hit: A-side "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone" peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 in late March 1968, as well as topping the Hot Rhythm and Blues chart for three weeks. The B-side, "Ain't No Way," climbed to #9 on the Hot Rhythm and Blues chart, and #16 on the Hot 100. Among the deep album cuts on Lady Soul, Franklin would take on the Young Rascals' #1 hit, "Groovin'."