The Album That Changed Aretha Franklin's Career

Aretha Franklin in 1968
Photo Credit
Jack Robinson/Getty Images

If Aretha Franklin had a moment of coronation as the Queen of Soul, it might have been March 10, 1967 - the day her first album for Atlantic Records arrived in stores.

I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You was hardly Aretha's first - she'd recorded nearly a dozen albums for Columbia throughout the '60s - but where those albums failed to launch her into the stratosphere, the change of scenery on this one succeeded. Aretha decamped from New York City to FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record with the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, whose members recording hits for Arthur Alexander and James & Bobby Purify.

Listen: My Classic Soul Podcast - Aretha Franklin: 'I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You'

The Muscle Shoals sessions only yielded one usable track, however: the album's eventual title song. Any further progress was thwarted by an argument between Aretha's husband Ted White and studio owner Rick Hall. Franklin returned home to New York and requested Jerry Wexler bring the rhythm section to her; with major markets having played acetates of "I Never Loved a Man" and discovered its hit potential, Wexler quickly agreed.

The whirlwind sessions procured some of Aretha's most beloved work: "Do Right Woman - Do Right Man," "Dr. Feelgood," and a pair of Sam Cooke tracks, "A Change is Gonna Come" and "Good Times." But the strongest of all was Otis Redding's "Respect," transformed from a soul rave-up to an anthem of Black woman expression that impacted radio and sales like a neutron bomb.

Read More: Songs of Black Lives Matter: Aretha Franklin, "Respect"

Within months, "I Never Loved a Man" and "Respect" gave Aretha her first ever Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100; "Respect" climbed to No. 1 on that chart for two weeks in June 1967, and the album ascended to No. 2 in its eighth week on the chart. For the Queen of Soul, it was of course just the beginning - but what a start.

Artist Name

Read More

Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
What we learned from the must-see film.
article column overlay
'Perfect Union' is in stores this August.
article column overlay
Everyone covers The Beatles - but Wonder seasoned the Beatles tune with a silky bass line and blues swing that transformed the original with a quality of soul. Which version do you prefer?
article column overlay

Facebook Comments