Looking for a way to introduce Aretha Franklin to a mainstream audience, Jerry Wexler - who signed the Queen of Soul to Atlantic Records and produced her classic albums - booked the singer for three nights at San Francisco's Fillmore West in March 1971.
At Wexler's suggestion, Franklin tapped premier saxman King Curtis and the Kingpins as both her opening act and backing band for the performances. Rhino Records revisits the sweet soul magic of those landmark live shows with remastered and expanded versions of Aretha Live At Fillmore West and Curtis' Live At Fillmore West. Both are available from Rhino July 11 at regular retail outlets and at www.rhino.comfor a suggested list price of $19.98 for Franklin and $18.98 for Curtis.
Aretha Live At Fillmore Westis a two-disc set containing the original ten-track album remastered and expanded with a bonus disc that includes 13 worthy performances not included on the original 1971 release. Adding up to an hour of vintage Aretha, the bonus tracks first surfaced on Rhino Handmade's rare and out-of-print collection featuring the complete Fillmore West concert recordings.
Opening with Franklin's signature hit "Respect," the first disc spotlights the Queen of Soul putting her inimitable vocal stamp on popular hits such as "Love The One You're With" by Stephen Stills, "Bridge Over Trouble Water" by Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" and "Make It With You" by Bread. The second half of the album switches gears as Franklin launches into a cover of Ben E. King's "Don't Play That Song" and "Dr. Feelgood" before singing her 1971 Top 5 R&B and Top 30 Pop hit single, "Spirit In The Dark." The song received an unexpected reprise when Ray Charles was spotted in the audience and brought onstage to perform an extended duet with Franklin.
The second disc contains 13 of the best performances from all three nights including alternate versions of many songs featured on the original. The disc also includes four songs that did not appear on the original "Call Me," "Mixed-Up Girl," "Share Your Love With Me" and Franklin's heartfelt reading of Ashford and Simpson's "You're All I Need To Get By." Highlights of King Curtis' performances recorded during those three momentous nights are collected on Live At Fillmore West, a single-disc collection featuring the original nine-song release remastered and expanded with five bonus tracks. Originally released shortly before Curtis was murdered in August 1971, the album became Curtis' best-selling release and charted on Billboard's R&B and Pop charts.
The album includes the powerful soul grooves laid down by Curtis and his dream team of musicians: Cornell Dupree on guitar, Jerry Jemmott on electric bass, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on drums, Truman Thomas on electric piano, Pancho Morales on congas as well as special guests Billy Preston and The Memphis Horns.
Opening with the torrid funk of "Memphis Soul Stew," the album also includes covers of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," Procol Harum's classic 1967 hit "A Whiter Shade Of Pale," Bobbie Gentry's hit single "Ode To Billie Joe," Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" and "Mr. Bojangles," Jerry Jeff Walker's tribute to the great Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who is often credited as the "father of tap dancing."
Originally appearing on Rhino's out-of-print collection of the complete Fillmore West concert recordings, the bonus tracks on Live At Fillmore West performances of Buddy Miles' "Them Changes" and Curtis' signature "Soul Serenade" along with a cover of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" that did not appear on the original release featuring Billy Preston.
ARETHA LIVE AT FILLMORE WEST
2. "Love The One You're With"
3. "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
4. "Eleanor Rigby"
5. "Make It With You"
6. "Don't Play That Song"
7. "Dr. Feelgood"
8. "Spirit In The Dark"
9. "Spirit In The Dark" (reprise)
10. "Reach Our And Touch (Somebody's Hand)"
2. "Call Me"
3. "Mixed-Up Girl"
4. "Love The One You're With"
5. "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
6. "Share Your Love With Me"
7. "Eleanor Rigby"
8. "Make It With You"
9. "You're All I Need To Get By"
10. "Don't Play That Song"
11. "Dr. Feelgood"
12. "Spirit In The Dark"
13. "Spirit In The Dark"
KING CURTIS LIVE AT FILLMORE WEST
1. "Memphis Soul Stew"
2. "A Whiter Shade of Pale"
3. "Whole Lotta Love"
4. "I Stand Accused"
5. "Them Changes"
6. "Ode To Billie Joe"
7. "Mr. Bojangles"
8. "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)"
9. "Soul Serenade"
10. "My Sweet Lord"
11. "Them Changes"
12. "Ode To Billie Joe"
13. "Soul Serenade"
14. "Memphis Soul Stew"