On March 25, 2012, Aretha Franklin will turn 70 years old. That hardly means she’s ready to slow down, however. 2011 found the Queen of Soul looking trim and sounding vibrant as she returned to the concert stage and released a new studio album. Surely her landmark birthday will be celebrated with countless airings of her 1960s golden hits like “Respect,” “Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools.” But Legacy Recordings and Arista Records are seeing to it that a latter-day hitmaking period for the music icon is given its due attention.
Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin 1980-1998 will arrive on January 31. It spans almost the entirety of Franklin’s tenure at Clive Davis’ storied Arista label, with tracks from every studio album recorded by the singer between 1980’s Aretha and 1998’s A Rose is Still a Rose. (Only 2003’s So Damn Happy is not represented.) Its chronologically-sequenced sixteen cuts reveal a still-growing artist sounding revitalized in a modern setting after a string of unsuccessful (and still unavailable on CD) records on the Atlantic label, home to her greatest triumphs.
What’s most remarkable about the selections on Knew You Were Waiting is how simple it is to draw a line from the deep soul of the Atlantic days to the glossy productions at Arista. The compilation’s lead-off track, 1980’s “United Together,” features Aretha once again backed by the Sweet Inspirations (Cissy Houston, Myrna Smith, Sylvia Shenwell and Estelle Brown). Atlantic’s legendary producer and arranger Arif Mardin helmed “Love All the Hurt Away,” a 1981 duet with George Benson. (Incidentally, Benson was recording at Columbia in the mid-1960s under the aegis of John Hammond, one of Franklin’s guiding lights during her time with the label!) Burt Bacharach, who supplied Franklin with the enduring Atlantic hit “I Say a Little Prayer,” finally got the chance to produce her at Arista on “Ever Changing Times.” The 1987 song was originally recorded for the film Baby Boom by Siedah Garrett (best known for joining Michael Jackson on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”) but Bacharach and co-writer/producer Carole Bayer Sager delivered it to Franklin for 1991’s rather unfortunately-titled What You See is What You Sweat. Franklin and her duet partner, Michael McDonald, then took the song to the Top 20 of the R&B chart! It’s presented here in a mix that’s previously unreleased on CD!
Hit the jump for much more, including the complete track listing with discography!
McDonald and Benson aren’t the only big names who teamed with Franklin under Clive Davis’ aegis. More than one-third of the anthology (six tracks) is devoted to collaborations. Elton John appears on “Through the Storm,” George Michael does the honors on the chart-topping “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” and Whitney Houston makes an impression on “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be.” Perhaps the best-remembered of the duets is 1985’s “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves,” on which Franklin was joined by the Eurythmics as well as three members of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers. Keith Richards produced and played on Aretha’s cover of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” from 1986, and Clarence Clemons and Randy Jackson joined the singer on the infectious, Grammy Award-winning “Freeway of Love” from 1985’s Who’s Zoomin’ Who? album. That LP is the best-represented here, with four tracks selected, including “Sisters.”
Knew You Were Waiting should also draw attention to the producers and songwriters who provided Franklin with her hits during this period, among them the team of Albert (“It Never Rains in Southern California,” “When I Need You”) Hammond and Diane (“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” “Because You Loved Me”) Warren, as well as Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Narada Michael Walden and the late, great Luther Vandross.
With new liner notes by Ernest Hardy and compilation by Leo Sacks (the producer responsible for last year’s monumental Take a Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia), Knew You Were Waiting brings up-to-date the 1994 Arista release Greatest Hits (1980-1994), dropping some songs but adding others. This new anthology of The Queen of Soul’s white-hot “comeback” period hits stores from Legacy Recordings on January 31, 2012. It can be pre-ordered at the link below! Touching on pop, dance, R&B and rock, these sixteen recordings prove that true Soul transcends any musical setting.
Aretha Franklin, Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin 1980-1998 (Arista/Legacy Recordings 88697 99780 2 7, 2012)
- United Together
- Love All the Hurt Away (Duet with George Benson)
- Jump to It
- Get It Right
- Freeway of Love
- Who’s Zoomin’ Who
- Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves (Duet with The Eurythmics)
- Another Night
- Jumpin’ Jack Flash
- Jimmy Lee
- I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (Duet with George Michael)
- Through the Storm (Duet with Elton John)
- It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be (Duet with Whitney Houston)
- Ever Changing Times (Duet with Michael McDonald)
- Willing to Forgive
- A Rose is Still a Rose
Track 1 from Aretha, Arista AL-9538, 1980
Track 2 from Love All the Hurt Away, Arista AL-9552, 1981
Track 3 from Jump to It, Arista AL-9602, 1982
Track 4 from Get It Right, Arista AL8-8019, 1983
Tracks 5-8 from Who’s Zoomin’ Who?, Arista AL8-8286, 1985
Tracks 9-11 from Aretha, Arista AL-8442, 1986
Tracks 12-13 from Through the Storm, Arista AL-8572, 1989
Track 14 previously unreleased on CD, original mix from What You See is What You Sweat, Arista AL-8628, 1991
Track 15 from Greatest Hits 1980-1994, Arista 74321 16202-2, 1994
Track 16 from A Rose is Still a Rose, Arista 07822 18987-2, 1998