Collection: 10. Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You

The Queen of Soul’s reign began here. Groomed as a jazz-pop singer by Columbia, Aretha Franklin jumped to the R&B powerhouse Atlantic for her 11th album, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You. The label’s big idea was to “let Aretha be Aretha.” For the Memphis-born daughter of a Detroit preacher man, a 24-year-old mother of three who was trapped in a troubled marriage, that meant singing about adult emotional complexities with world-weary wisdom and barrel-chested expressiveness, accompanied by her own gospel piano chords, a bottom-heavy Muscle Shoals rhythm section, and punchy horns. It also meant hits, actual hits.

Franklin’s biggest solo smash is still this album’s reinvention of Otis Redding’s “Respect” as a dancefloor-ready call to consciousness, spelled out and spiced up with sock-it-to-me backing vocals by her sisters (“Ree,” as in “ree-ree-ree-ree-respect,” was their nickname for Aretha). The bluesy title track enacts a toxic codependency; the country-molasses waltz “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” could keep any couple together. Franklin showed her songwriting strengths, too, especially on the candidly lustful “Dr. Feelgood.” But she was more apt to lay claim on songs made famous by male R&B greats—not only Redding but also Ray Charles and, twice, her hero Sam Cooke, whose civil rights anthem “A Change Is Gonna Come” she reimagines no less boldly than “Respect,” proclaiming, “Mychange is gonna come.” –Marc Hogan /

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