CD Review Aretha Franklin ‘Knew You Were Waiting’: Worth the wait

Her wedding may be on hold, but Aretha Franklin’s career hasn’t been, even long past her original ’60s heyday as the Queen of Soul. She was big in the ’80s, too, for one thing, as shown on this superb 16-song collection, Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin 1980-1998, due Tuesday from Arista/Legacy.

I mean, hearing her buoyant and bouncy Freeway of Love and Who’s Zoomin’ Who makes me want to don a headband again and start aerobicizing to the music, as I did in the day. And it doesn’t rock much better than Aretha’s duet with the Eurythmics for Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves, one of seven collaborations on this disc. Besides, female empowerment anthems always give me a kick.

Not that Aretha’s work has been steadily as good and as popular in every decade. The material often fails her, even if her voice doesn’t. But there’s so much more to appreciate than her ’60s standards such as Respect, Think and  Chain of Fools, and this array from the ’80s and ’90s is a fine example of that. In fact, it’s the most pure best-of collection ever for that era.

I haven’t even mentioned the set’s title tune, I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), a 1986 duet with George Michael which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Not bad.

Credit producer Narada Michael Walden for the hook-heavy, synth-laced hits, and enjoy other vocal collaborators such as Elton John (Through the Storm) and  Whitney Houston (It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be).

No, the ’90s material isn’t that noteworthy, but it’s only three of the 16 tracks.

But in the ’80s, like fellow ’60s soul survivor Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin reascended. In fact, she ruled. You’d expect that from the Queen of Soul.

— Bruce Westbrook

 

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One Response to “CD Review Aretha Franklin ‘Knew You Were Waiting’: Worth the wait”

  1. Calogero Says:

    Well, she is popular for her classics in the 60s….

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