Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Here's the full version of my blurb on Aretha's astonishing Amazing Grace, my favorite live album of all time (radio edit here):

Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace: The Complete Recordings (Atlantic/Rhino 1972/1999)
Live at Fillmore West is an astounding album, like Amazing Grace a double-LP that caught the Queen at the peak of her powers – but her return to church the following year is superior. This is gospel so powerful that it can convert heathens; while that VOICE (she’s the finest singer of the past 50 years, hands down) can sing anything, Aretha’s rarely sung as passionately as she does when singing about Jesus. She can make any song gospel, too, as evidenced by her the way she brings the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” to church. And her 16-minute “Amazing Grace” is nothing short of spellbinding. With the Southern California Community Choir backing her up and the Rev. James Cleveland (the Kirk Franklin of his day) at her side, this is one of the Queen’s crowning achievements.

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