Aretha Franklin - Unforgettable : A Tribute To Dinah Washington - 180g LP


Aretha Franklin - Unforgettable : A Tribute To Dinah Washington - 180g LP

Product no.: CS8963

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Aretha Franklin - Unforgettable : A Tribute To Dinah Washington - 180g LP
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Speakers Corner / Columbia - CS 8963 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl - 4260019713322

AAA 100% Analogue  - Audiophile Mastering

Mastered by Maarten De Boer in Berlin - Pressed  at Pallas in Germany:

The Speaker’s Corner reissue is a great piece of work. I’ve never heard the original, but this far outshines the other two Columbia Aretha LPs I have. The 180 gram vinyl is absolutely silent - Stereophile 

The myth that Columbia Records producers kept Aretha Franklin from finding her soul on disc has largely been discredited, and albums such as the 1964 Unforgettable are a big reason why. Working with a small, surprisingly tough rhythm section, Franklin delivers highly personalized renditions of 10 songs associated with the great Dinah Washington

who'd passed just months before. The material ranges from pop standards to Hank Williams and Bessie Smith numbers, paralleling Franklin's own eclecticism.

These recordings were made before Aretha Franklin was honoured with such names as 'Lady Soul' or 'Soul Sister No. 1'. That the young, talented singer already possessed one of the most outstanding voices was confirmed by the great Dinah Washington who stated concisely but decisively: »The girl has got soul.«
The present tribute album was recorded just a few months after Washington’s death and presents her most important and successful numbers, sung by her 23-year-old successor, who obviously feels quite comfortable when treading in the great singer’s footsteps.
 
In "Unforgettable", a laid-back number with a string background, Aretha captivates the listener with her ever-changing vocal colouring and gospel-like ballad feeling. In the second number, "Cold, Cold Heart", there is already evidence of a shimmering, subliminal blues nuance which is shot through with pointed harp phrases and the 'sucking' sound of the Hammond organ. While an old-fashioned bluesy style supported by a powerful bigband is characteristic of "Evil Gal Blues", unconventional arrangements using obbligato trombone ("Don’t Say You’re Sorry Again") are also found in this fascinating and highly varied line-up of numbers. Now, more than 40 years after its release, this album pays tribute to two unforgettable interpreters of black music.
 
The Speaker’s Corner reissue is a great piece of work. I’ve never heard the original, but this far outshines the other two Columbia Aretha LPs I have. The 180 gram vinyl is absolutely silent - Stereophile 
 
Aretha Franklin’s escape from the squares at Columbia Records to become the Queen of
Soul on groovy Atlantic is one of the great legends of popular music.
Think about it: Aretha Franklin, John Hammond and Jerry Wexler —three giants of
music— all converge in one story. But do the facts support the legend? This album
certainly gives pause.
Speaker’s Corner reissue of the 1964 Unforgettable finds Aretha at 22 years old, about
midway through a run of albums for Columbia that yielded little in the way of
commercial success and still three years away from her Atlantic debut, I Never Loved A
Man, one of the great soul albums of all time. While Unforgettable is not up to that
standard, it’s one of the clearest recordings of the young Aretha—and that includes the
Atlantic sides The album was made a few months after Dinah Washington’s death. Listening to it is a
bit like watching one of those nested Russian dolls being taken apart. Dinah Washington
herself was something of a nested character. She was called “Queen of the Blues,” yet to
my ear she stayed as far from the prior Queen —Bessie Smith— as she could.
 
From what I’ve read, she prided herself on her clear diction and insisted on a much more
conventional pose than the bawdy Smith. I may be treading on thin ice here, but it seems
to me that Washington belongs to that group of post-War Black performers—people like
Nina Simone, Nat Cole, Sam Cooke, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan—who steered hard
away from the stereotype of the barroom gutbucket Black singer, but still worked
proudly to project and extend their tradition, albeit in a way that at least left the door
open for people outside that tradition to enjoy their work.
And that seems to be the same kind of treatment Columbia was determined to give
Franklin, already an experienced performer on the gospel circuit. The legend suggests
cluelessness— I’m not so sure it wasn’t consideration and a perhaps misplaced notion of
dignity. Aretha herself was a Dinah Washington fan, and although she was to become a
much different singer, here she pays proper homage.
 
Robert Mersey, who produced and charted her stuff on Columbia, often gave her a full
string section, and she benefits as little from that as most powerful singers do. This album
also features a smallish combo (trumpet, trombone, bass, drums, sax, organ and piano) of
talented New York jazz session guys. They play well but are not on the same page as
Aretha most of the time.
The legend also suggests that Aretha finally found her true talent at Atlantic. Yes and no.
On this album, she frequently sings her butt off. Many of the vocals are indistinguishable
from her Atlantic singing. “This Bitter Earth,” for example, gets Aretha’s full dramatic
attention, building with each chorus. It’s compelling, but it won’t make you think of
“Respect.”
 
But Aretha does break out here. First, on “Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This
Morning,” where she is backed only by bass, organ, drums and a bluesy stinging guitar.
They catch fire, she settles back into the groove, takes her time, lets the organ swirl
around her, testifies and slowly raises the temperature to white hot. I was reminded of
her version of “Drown in My Own Tears.” Parts of other songs tease as well.
And then we get to the singular “Soulville,” the final cut. Aretha has shed the strings, the
band is way back in the mix and the horns are doing a creditable impression of the
Memphis Horns. Now we have finally gotten to that doll inside all the other dolls. She
sits down at the piano herself and belts out this number, egging herself on with her own
Did Aretha make the "jump" to soul here? Before Atlantic? double tracked soul backup tracks
With her own playing giving her a deeper groove, sheabsolutely soars.

This tune could have gone on any of her early Atlantic albums. I have to imagine that
this was one of the tunes that encouraged Jerry Wexler to sign Aretha to Atlantic. It’s a
rocking soulful number and for the first time on the album Aretha sounds like the Queen
of Soul. So, no, it wasn’t just the trip to Muscle Shoals that made her what she became—
Aretha was already doing it in 1964. But yes, Atlantic sure did allow her to explode in a
way that Columbia probably never would have.
 
The Speaker’s Corner reissue is a great piece of work. I’ve never heard the original, but
this far outshines the other two Columbia Aretha LPs I have. The 180 gram vinyl is
absolutely silent, there are very realistic drums and organ and the recording and
mastering also producing decent sounding horns. Aretha is a teeny bit back in the mix
for me, but that seems to be common on her records —maybe they have to do that to
accommodate her swooping peaks. Compared to either the original I Never Loved A Man
LP or the  4 Men With Beards reissue, this is much clearer and natural
sounding.
The one place where I noticed the production intruding was on the songs with heavy
strings. There, the sound was a bit “Hi-Fi”-ish. With so much to fit on the soundstage,
the engineers opted for a wraparound effect: Aretha in the middle, the strings stage right,
and then the band wrapped around the edges. It’s a tad fakey, but if you’re like me,
you’ll probably be more annoyed by the mere presence of the strings than by the mixing.
If you’re a Dinah Washington fan, this is a great treatment of her tunes. Even with the
strings, the arrangements are cleaner than many of Dinah’s original recordings. And
Aretha, as you might expect, holds her own on the tunes. On “Unforgettable” and “What
a Diff’rence a Day Made” she mimics a little of Dinah’s vocal style, which is regrettable
but it’s not so overdone as to be obnoxious. If you’re a fan of this style of 1950s vocal
album (and really, that’s what the style is), you’ll also like this record. If you’re an
Aretha fan, you’ve got a choice to make. If you’re looking for the more down-home,
Gospel-driven, Black is Beautiful Aretha of later years, not so much.- Michael Fremer
 

Aretha Franklin, vocals, piano
Ernie Hayes, piano, organ
Paul Griffin, organ
Teddy Charles, vibes
George Duvivier, bass
Gary Chester, drums
Ernie Royal, trumpet
Buddy Lucas, tenor sax, harmonica
Bob Asher, trombone
Strings arranged and conducted by Robert Mersey

Selections:

1. Unforgettable

2. Cold, Cold Heart

3. What a Diff'rence a Day Made

4. Drinking Again

5. Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This Morning

6. Evil Gal Blues

7. Don't Say You're Sorry Again

8.This Bitter Earth

9. If I Should Lose You

10. Soulville

Aretha Franklin - Unforgettable - 180g LP

20 Years pure Analogue
 
Are your records completely analogue?
Yes! This we guarantee!
As a matter of principle, only analogue masters are used, and the necessary cutting delay is also analogue. All our cutting engineers use only Neumann cutting consoles, and these too are analogue. The only exception is where a recording has been made – either partly or entirely – using digital technology, but we do not have such items in our catalogue at the present time
 
Are your records cut from the original masters?
In our re-releases it is our aim to faithfully reproduce the original intentions of the musicians and recording engineers which, however, could not be realised at the time due to technical limitations. Faithfulness to the original is our top priority, not the interpretation of the original: there is no such thing as a “Speakers Corner Sound”. Naturally, the best results are obtained when the original master is used. Therefore we always try to locate these and use them for cutting. Should this not be possible, – because the original tape is defective or has disappeared, for example – we do accept a first-generation copy. But this remains an absolute exception for us.
 
Who cuts the records?
In order to obtain the most faithful reproduction of the original, we have the lacquers cut on the spot, by engineers who, on the whole, have been dealing with such tapes for many years. Some are even cut by the very same engineer who cut the original lacquers of the first release. Over the years the following engineers have been and still are working for us: Tony Hawkins, Willem Makkee, Kevin Gray, Maarten de Boer, Scott Hull, and Ray Staff, to name but a few.
At the beginning of the ‘90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the reissue policy was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC Compact Classics, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and others, including of course Speakers Corner, all maintained a mutual, unwritten code of ethics: we would manufacture records sourced only from analogue tapes. 
 
Vinyl’s newfound popularity has led many other companies to jump on the bandwagon in the hope of securing a corner of the market. Very often they are not so ethical and use every imaginable source from which to master: CDs, LPs, digital files and even MP3s. 
 
Even some who do use an analogue tape source employ a digital delay line, a misguided ’80s and ‘90s digital technology that replaces the analogue preview head originally used to “tell” the cutter head in advance what was about to happen musically, so it could adjust the groove “pitch” (the distance between the grooves) to make room for wide dynamic swings and large low frequency excursions. Over time analogue preview heads became more rare and thus expensive. 
 
So while the low bit rate (less resolution than a 16 bit CD) digital delay line is less expensive and easier to use than an analogue “preview head”, its use, ironically, results in lacquers cut from the low bit rate digital signal instead of from the analogue source! 
 
Speakers Corner wishes to make clear that it produces lacquers using only original master tapes and an entirely analogue cutting system. New metal stampers used to press records are produced from that lacquer. The only exceptions are when existing metal parts are superior to new ones that might be cut, which includes our release of “Elvis is Back”, which was cut by Stan Ricker or several titles from our Philips Classics series, where were cut in the 1990s using original master tapes by Willem Makkee at the Emil Berliner Studios. In those cases we used only the original “mother” to produce new stampers. 
 
In addition, we admit to having one digital recording in our catalogue: Alan Parsons’ “Eye in the Sky”, which was recorded digitally but mixed to analogue tape that we used to cut lacquers. 
 
In closing, we want to insure our loyal customers that, with but a few exceptions as noted, our releases are “AAA”— analogue tape, an all analogue cutting system, and newly cut lacquers.
 
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Audiophile Vinyl - Made in Germany  For over 60 years the family business in the third generation of the special personal service and quality "Made by Pallas" is known worldwide. Our custom PVC formulation produces consistently high pressing quality with the lowest surface noise in the industry. Our PVC complies with 2015 European environmental standards and does not contain toxic materials such as Lead, Cadmium or Toluene. Our vinyl is both audiophile and eco-grade! 

 

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