By the early eighties, Aretha Franklin’s wasn’t enjoying the same success as earlier on in her career. It had been ten long years since one of her albums had been certified gold. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she hadn’t had a single enter the top forty since 1976s Sparkle and her last US R&B number one single had been 1977s Break It To Me Gently. The one thing Aretha wanted was a comeback. Then in 1982, her wish was granted. Clive Davis, now head of Arista Records hired Luther Vandrosss to produce her 1982 album Jump To It. It would give Aretha the comeback she wanted. Not only Jump To It it certified gold, but the title-track gave Aretha a number one single in the US R&B Charts. Given the success of Jump To It, Clive Davis wanted more of the same. So, Luther Vandross was hired to write and produce the follow-up, Get It Right, which will be rereleased by BBR Records on 4th June 2012. Get It Right would not only build on the success of Jump To It, but include another number one single, the title-track Get It Right written by Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller. It seemed that Aretha Franklin’s career was enjoying something of an Indian Summer. After I’ve told you the background to Get It Right, I’ll tell you about the music on the album.

The song that gave Aretha a number one single in 1982 was Jump To It, written by Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller. For Get It Right, Luther and Marcus cowrote four songs, including the two singles Get It Right and Every Girl (Wants My Guy). Luther contributed one other track I Got Your Love, which he wrote himself. Among the other tracks were Giving In, written by Aretha’s younger sister Carolyn Franklin, plus a cover of I Wish It Would Rain, co-written by Norman Whitfield and made famous by The Temptations. With the songs written, the next step was to record the eight tracks that would become Jump To It. 

Recording of what would become Jump To It took place at three studios, Los Angeles’ Record Plant, New York’s Media Sound and United Sound in Detroit. The rhythm sessions were recorded in New York, while backing vocals and the strings were recorded in Los Angeles. Aretha recorded her vocals at Media Sound in New York. For the recording sessions, an all-star band had been recruited. This included guitarist Doc Powell, bassist Marcus Miller, keyboard player Nat Adderley Jr., pianist George Duke, percussionist Paulinho Da Costa and drummer Buddy Williams. The lineup of backing vocalists were just as impressive. Luther Vandross recruited Fonzi Thornton and Norma Jean Wright with whom Luther had sung backing vocals on Chic’s album. Aretha recruited Cissy Houston and Erma Franklin to contribute backing vocals. Once the sessions were finished, all that was left was for Jump To It to be released.

Before the release of Get It Right, the title-track Get It Right was released as a singe in June 1983. It would match the success of Jump To It, reaching number one in the US R&B Charts, while reaching number sixty-one in the US Billboard 100 and number nine in the US Dance Charts. The following month, July 1983, saw the release of Get It Right, which reached number four in the US R&B Charts, while reaching number thirty-six in the US Billboard 200. Every Girl (Wants My Guy) was the second single released from the album in September 1983, reaching number seven in the US R&B Charts. Although Get It Right didn’t quite match the success of Aretha’s previous album Jump To It, it still gave her a number one US R&B single. This was the next step in the rejuvenation of Aretha Franklin’s career. However, what does the music on Get It Right sound like? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

Opening Get It Right is the title-track and number one US R&B single Get It Right, written by Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller. There are similarities to Aretha’s previous number one US R&B single Jump To It. That’s not surprising given it was also written by Marcus and Luther. The rhythm section, synths, keyboards and percussion combine, giving the track a dance-floor friendly sound. Then, backing vocalists enter, before Aretha’s powerful, soaring vocal enters. By then you’re hooked, almost hypnotised by the beat and spellbound by the uplifting and joyous sound of the track, which is helped by the the backing vocalists who hep give the track such an irresistible, uplifting and joyous sound.

Although Pretender is another Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller penned track, it’s one with a much more “Aretha Franklin” sound. Here, Aretha’s vocal gets the opportunity to shine. Her vocal is heartfelt, full of hurt and regret, accompanied by soaring, emotive backing vocalists and swathes of the lushest strings. Later, the rhythm section take the track in the direction of funk, while Aretha’s half-spoken vocal is accompanied by dramatic backing vocals, quivering strings and percussion. They provide the perfect accompaniment to the emotion, hurt and heartache in Aretha’s vocal, which demonstrates she hadn’t lost any of her vocal prowess.

Crispy drums, bursts of synths and handclaps give way to Aretha’s vocal on Every Girl (Wants My Guy). Aretha’s almost like a cheerleader, encouraging her band and backing vocalists to even greater heights. This works, on this mid-tempo track. The rhythm section, keyboards, percussion and swooning, cooing backing vocalists lift their game, while Aretha rolls back the years, delivering a vocal that’s powerful and hugely soulful. Congas, percussion and a funky bass replace Aretha’s vocal, before gospel-tinged backing vocalists accompany her as the track heads to a close. It’s six minutes of infectiously catchy, upbeat and hook-laden minutes. No wonder it was released as the second single from Get It Right.

When You Love Me Like That is the fourth and last of the Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller penned tracks. However, it has the same quality as the three previous tracks. When the track opens, it gracefully glides into being. The rhythms section, bursts of horns and percussion, givie way to cascading strings and backing vocalists. Then in comes Aretha, her vocal has a tenderness, before growing in power and emotion. The backing vocalists are equally subtle and soulful, while rasping horns, percussion and lush strings add to the track’s elegance and beauty. 

I Wish It Would Rain is a track that previously, had been covered by many artists, but made famous by The Temptations. It was co-written by Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong and Roger Penzabene. Here, Aretha interprets the track, dropping the tempo way down, with just a pounding bass and slow, punchy drums accompanying her, Quickly, the arrangement grows, bursts of horns and backing vocalists, percussion and swathes of grand strings. Aretha’s backing vocalists give the track a gospel sound, as they answer her call. As they do this, the rhythm section add drama, as do the horns and strings. Later, Aretha unleashes her powerful, emotive voice. You can only marvel at her power, control and sheer soulfulness. When an arrangement that’s variously dramatic and subtle is added to the equation, the result in peerless cover version of The Temptations’ track.

It seems Get It Right is just one great track after another, with Better Friends Than Lovers, written by Michael Lovesmith just the latest in sumptuousness soulfulness from Aretha. Of all the tracks on the album, it’s the most soulful, featuring one of Aretha’s best vocals. Her vocal is sung feeling and passion, veering between gentle and powerful. Accompanied by subtle, soulful backing vocalists that are vital to the song’s sound and success, swathes of strings, an understated rhythm section and keyboards combine. However, it’s the undisputed Queen of Soul that makes this track just so beautiful and special. Here, Aretha’s vocal is peerless, and truly, is soulfulness personified.

I Got Your Love was the only track Luther Vandross wrote himself. After such a special song as the previous song, he has a lot to live up to. However, neither Luther nor Aretha disappoints. As the song bursts into life, with the rhythm section, keyboards, percussion and cascading strings, a funky bass signals the arrival of Aretha’s vocal. It starts of tender and gentle, full of emotion and passion, before growing in power. Backing vocalists accompany Aretha, with bursts of their soulful voices reflecting the beauty and emotion in Aretha’s vocal. Similarly, the arrangement, with it’s use of the rhythm section, piano and shimmering, quivering strings compliments Aretha’s vocal. They add to the beauty and emotion of Aretha’s tender, heartfelt vocal.

Closing Get It Right is Giving In, written by Carolyn Franklin, a track that sees the tempo fall, allowing Aretha to deliver a husky, impassioned vocal. This she does against an arrangement where strings cascade, horns rasp and guitars chime. Gospel-tinged backing vocalists accompany Aretha, while flourishes of piano and funky bass augment the arrangement. Waves of drama build up, punctuating the arrangement throughout the track. Later a jazzy guitar, and then sultry saxophone enter. From there, things get even better, as if somehow, Aretha and her band manage to lift her game one more time for the track that closes Get It Right on a real high. Like the other seven songs, Giving In has two things in common…quality and soulfulness.

Get It Right, which was the follow-up to 1982s Jump To It, saw Aretha Franklin continue her comeback. Like Jump To It, Get It Right reached number one in the US R&B Charts. These albums saw Luther Vandross rejuvenate Aretha’s career. His part in her comeback can’t be underestimated. Not only did he cowrite four tracks with Marcus Miller, but wrote I Got Your Love. He also produced Get It Right and together with a hugely talented group of musicians, produced the perfect musical backdrop to Aretha’s vocals. Aretha’s vocals had the same quality as previous albums, with her voice soulful, full of emotion, passion and sometimes powerful. However, ne group of people’s role can’t be underestimated. They’re the backing vocals, whose contributions are hugely important in the album’s sound and success. The complement Aretha’s vocals, reflecting and magnifying her emotion. Sometimes, the backing vocalists give some of the tracks gospel sound, which given Aretha’s gospel background is quite apt. Regardless of whether the tracks are ballads or more uptempo, dance-floor friendly tracks, Aretha’s vocal stands out and shines. Given the quality of her voice, it’s no wonder that Get It Right was both critically acclaimed and such a commercial success. It appealed to old and new fans alike. Both were won over by the mixture of Aretha’s old and new sounds on Get It Right, which will be rereleased on 4th June 2012. After the release of Get It Right, came the most successful album of Aretha Franklin’s career, 1985s Who’s Zooming Who? It was the thirtieth album of Aretha’s career, and her only album to be certified platinum. Following this came 1986s gold certified Aretha, which bookended Aretha Franklin’s comeback. Of these four albums, Jump To It and Get It Right are the best, as Aretha rolls back the years, delivering some peerless vocals. Standout Tracks: Get It Right, Every Girl (Wants My Guy), When You Love Me Like and Better Friends Than Lovers.


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