Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul (Rhino) | Otis Redding: The King of Soul (Rhino)
If Aretha Franklin was the Queen and Otis Redding the King of 1960s soul music, their union was consummated in the song they shared but whose meaning they disputed. Redding’s “Respect” was a forceful entreaty from a man to his woman. Franklin turned the song on its head, transforming it into a demand that men respect women as equals.
Franklin and Redding had much more in common than “Respect” as this pair of multi-disc sets testify. For both singers, the walk was short from the gospel church to the recording studio; they learned to sing in full fervor of belief, and that energy was easily transferred to secular subjects, especially the passion of love. Franklin and Redding wielded drop-dead power with their voices and were backed by crack teams of strong yet supple musicians who shifted between yearning soul ballads and Southern-fried funk without missing a beat. The Franklin collection surveys live and studio recordings made for the Atlantic label from 1967 through 1976; the Redding set covers a shorter period, as the singer died young in a 1967 plane crash in Wisconsin.
The Queen and King of
Soul are well-curated introductions to the careers of a pair of African American artists who set high standards for popular music in the ’60s.