ARETHA FRANKLIN-LOVE HURT ALL THE WAY.
ARETHA FRANKLIN-LOVE HURT ALL THE WAY.
After signing to Atlantic Records in 1967, Aretha Franklin released a string of critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums. From 1967s I Never Loved A Man the Way I Loved You and Aretha Arrives, through 1968s Lady Soul and Aretha Now and 1969s Soul ’69 Aretha enjoyed five US R&B number one albums, with three albums certified gold. This run of successful albums continued into the early seventies, Young, Gifted and Black released in 1972 being certified gold and 1974s Let Me Into Your Life giving Aretha her first US R&B number one album in five years. The next few years weren’t as successful for Aretha, with 1976s Sparkle being one of the highlights, reaching number one in the US R&B Charts and being certified gold. Sadly, the rest of Aretha’s time at Atlantic saw the critical acclaim and commercial success that Aretha had grown used to, dry up. Then in 1979, Aretha made the brave decision to leave Atlantic. Her debut album for her new label Arista, run by Clive Davis, a friend of Aretha’s, got her career back on track. It was Aretha’s most successful album since 1976s Sparkle, reaching number forty-seven in the US Billboard 200 and number six in the US R&B Charts. Having started rebuilding her career at Arista, Aretha was ready to build on the success of Aretha. So, Aretha Franklin headed to the studio to record her second album for Arista, Love Hurt All the Way, which will be rereleased by BBR Records on 24th September 2012. Would Love Hurt All the Way build on the success of Aretha and see Aretha Franklin reclaim her crown as the Queen of Soul.
For Aretha Franklin’s sophomore album for Arista, Love Hurt All the Way, ten tracks were chosen, with Aretha writing two tracks, Whole Lot of Me and Kind of Man. The other eight tracks were cover versions, including a cover of Hold On I’m Comin,’ made famous by Sam and Dave and written by David Porter and Isaac Hayes. Sam Dees contributed the title-track and album opener Love Hurt All the Way, which sees Aretha duet with George Benson. Among the other cover versions were a cover of It’s My Turn, written by Carol Bager Sayer and originally recorded by Diana Ross. Intriguingly, Aretha chose to cover The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Rod Temperton who was enjoying huge success as a songwriter, having written tracks for George Benson, Rufus, Donna Summer and The Brothers Johnson’s hit single Stomp, wrote Living In the Streets. These ten tracks would be recorded in Los Angeles and New York, with Arif Mardin producing Love Hurt All the Way.
For the recording of Love Hurt All the Way, a hugely talented group of musicians would accompany Aretha. This includes bassists Marcus Miller and Louis Johnson of The Brothers Johnson who played on the title-track Love Hurt All the Way and Living On the Streets, while Jeff Pocaro, a former member of Toto played drums. Completing the rhythm section was guitarists David Williams and Steve Lukather. Greg Phillinganes who wrote Behind the Mask, which was covered by Eric Clapton and Michael Jackson, played keyboards and sythns and Paulinho Da Costa added percussion. Cissy Houston, Estelle Brown, Darlene Love and Margaret Branch added backing vocals on what was like an all-star lineup of singers and musicians. Would the combined talents of these singers and musicians help Aretha Franklin in her quest to rebuild her career when Love Hurt All the Way was released?
Love Hurt All the Way was released in August 1981, reaching number thirty-six in the US Billboard 200 and number four in the US R&B Charts. While this was an improvement on Aretha’s chart placing, Love Hurt All the Way only sold 250,000 copies. The lead single was the title-track and duet with George Benson, Love Hurt All the Way. It reached number forty-six in the US Billboard 100, number six in the US R&B Charts and number forty-nine in the UK. When It’s My Turn was released as a single, it proved popular on the dance-floor, but reached just number twenty-nine in the US R&B Charts in October 1981. Over in the UK, another track was chosen as the second single, Hold On I’m Comin’ which failed to chart, but resulted in Aretha winning her eleventh Grammy Award for the Best R&B Vocal Performance. Then when Living In the Streets was released as a single in December 1981 in the US, it failed to chart. Overall, Love Hurt All the Way had resulted in Aretha’s most successful album since 1976s Sparkle and resulted in another Grammy Award. However, should Love Hurt All the Way have been a bigger commercial success? That’s what I’ll tell you, once I’ve told you about the music on Love Hurt All the Way.
Opening Love Hurt All the Way, is the title-track Love Hurt All the Way, which was written by Sam Dees, a hugely underrated songwriter and sees Aretha duet with George Benson. By 1981, George was at the height of his popularity, having become more mainstream. The tempo is slow with just keyboards, an understated rhythm section and guitars combining before Aretha’s vocal elegantly soars above the arrangement. Her vocal is restrained, tender and full of emotion, before George’s vocal enters. It’s the perfect accompaniment, with each vocal complimenting the other. Flourishes of tender, backing vocals and a sultry saxophone punctuate the arrangement, while the keyboards and Louis Johnson’s slapped bass is key to the arrangement. However, it’s a vocal tour de force, full of emotion and passion from Aretha and George that steals the show and makes this a beautiful ballad to open Love Hurt All the Way.
There’s a real change in style on the cover version of Sam and Dave’s Hold On I’m Comin.’ It’s given an eighties makeover where Aretha fuses eighties electronic music, hip hop and gospel backing vocals. She struts her sassy way through the track, with a combination of Mini Moog, funky rhythm section, blazing horns piano and testifying gospel backing vocalists accompanying her. Later, Aretha delivers part of the track in what’s almost a hip hop style, while some delicious harmonies accompany her. When this is combined with the piano and stabs of horns, the result is an incredible transformation of a familiar classic, that’s very definitely worthy of a Grammy Award.
Rod Temperton who was enjoying one of the hottest periods of his songwriting career, wrote Living In the Streets and arranged the rhythm and backing vocals. Greg Phillinganes synths and growling horns combine with a driving rhythm section before Aretha’s vocal enters. Soon, her vocal grows in power and passion, as punchy, soaring harmonies accompany her. Strings sweep and swirl, constant stabs of horns and bursts of pounding drums add to the drama that’s built up. Later, Greg adds a spellbinding synth solo, accompanied by bursts of percussion before dancing strings, punchy horns join the mix and Aretha takes charge of the vocal.
There’s A Star For Everyone is another of the ballads on Love Hurt All the Way. With just keyboards and piano combine allowing Aretha’s vocal to take centre-stage. Like a fine wine, her voice seems to grow with age. She breathes life and meaning into the lyrics, combining hope and joy, with sadness and a weariness. Behind her, the rhythm section, lush strings and keyboards combine, but It’s the piano and dramatic, soaring harmonies that are crucial to the arrangement. When they’re combined with Aretha’s vocal, the result in quite simply a beautiful, emotive roller-coaster journey of emotions, that’s one of the highlights of Love Hurt All the Way.
Probably when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards cowrote You Can’t Always Get What You Want, they never imagined the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin would cover it, but cover it she did. Staying true to the original the almost classical sound harmonies combine before things change. While the harmonies are still present, drums crack and synths help drive the track along in the direction of funk. Aretha’s vocal is feisty, as she makes the song swing. This sees the track head in the direction of the dance-floor, with an eighties sounding arrangement. A searing, riffing guitar solo adds contrast and to the drama provided by Aretha’s testifying backing vocalists who are crucial to the track’s sound and success.
It’s My Turn was written by Carol Bayer Sager and originally recorded by Diana Ross in 1980. By covering it a year later, Aretha was almost laying down a challenge, anything you can do, I can do better. It’s like a shootout between two dueling divas, with microphones at dawn. Just a piano accompany’s Aretha’s fragile, impassioned vocal. Her call is answered by tender backing vocalists. Soon, Aretha throws herself into the track, with the rhythm section and the lushest of strings accompanying the piano as the drama builds. While the drama builds, so too does the drama, emotion and power in Aretha’s vocal. The longer the song goes, the better Aretha’s vocal gets, especially with the dramatic, soaring, gospel infused backing vocals accompanying her. Aretha’s voice is full of determination as if she means every word of the song. By the end of the track you realize that although Diana Ross recorded the original, Aretha’s version is better. After all, they don’t call Aretha the Queen of Soul for nothing.
Carol Bayer Sayer who wrote It’s My Turn also cowrote Truth and Honesty with Burt Bacharach and Peter Allen. As strings dramatically sweep in, they don’t prepare you for the track exploding joyously into life. Chiming guitars are joined by a pounding, funky rhythm section and swathes of strings before Aretha’s punchy vocal enters. Quickly, her vocal grows in power, with tight, soaring harmonies accompanying her and a piano helping drive the track along. By now Aretha has made the song her own, turning back the clock and delivering a vintage slice of impassioned soul. With songs as good as this, Love Hurt All the Way deserved to have been a much bigger commercial success.
Chuck Jackson wasn’t just a successful soul singer, but also a talented songwriter who wrote Search On. This is a much slower track, with tender, soulful harmonies accompanying the rhythm section and pianos giving way to Aretha’s vocal. It’s full of emotions, a mixture of hurt and sadness, but also hope and belief. Strings sweep in, while pianos and the rhythm section build up the drama. Impassioned, pleading and hugely soulful harmonies sweep in, adding the beauty and drama of this powerful, moving and uplifting song full of hope.
Whole Lot of Me is the first of two tracks penned by Aretha. Here, searing guitars, a punchy rhythm section and keyboards accompany Aretha, as she delivers another swinging, sassy vocal. There’s a jazzy sound to the piano, while the rhythm section add a funky rhythm. Jo Anna Harris adds some powerful, dramatic harmonies while woodwind float in and out. Later, Aretha delivers a powerful, passionate vampish vocal, accompanied by an arrangement that matches her vocal for drama and power.
Closing Love Hurt All the Way is Kind of Man, written by Aretha. Horns, piano and the rhythm section combine before Aretha’s impassioned, dramatic vocal enters. Strings add to the emotion, while the rhythm section and piano play important parts in the slow, deliberate arrangement. Then the arrangement and Aretha’s vocal grows in drama. Strings sweep in, and with the piano, woodwind and rhythm section, each play their part in what is a moving and dramatic ballad to close Love Hurt All the Way.
Although Love Hurt All the Way wasn’t a huge commercial success, like Aretha’s Atlantic albums and three of her later Arista albums, it wasn’t because of the music. On Love Hurt All the Way Aretha’s vocal are just as good as on future Arista albums like Jump To It and Get It Right. Similarly, there was neither anything wrong with her multi-talented band nor the songs on Love Hurt All the Way. From the Sam Dees penned title-track Love Hurt All the Way, through There’s A Star For Everyone, It’s My Turn, Search On and Whole Lot of Me, the standard of songs is consistently high. The covers of Hold On I’m Comin’ and You Can’t Always Get What You want were intriguing, compelling interpretations of familiar songs that breathed new life and meaning into them. Maybe the reason Love Hurt All the Way wasn’t a much bigger commercial success was that Aretha’s music needed to appeal to a wider audience. That’s why Luther Vandross was brought in to produce her next two albums Jump To It and Get It Right. So in some ways, Love Hurt All the Way marked the end of a chapter in Aretha Franklin’s career. After this, she changed her music and style, appealing to a younger, wider audience. Of course, the danger with this, was that she risked alienating her older fans. Given, seen they were buying her music in smaller numbers, something had to give and change. So, for fans of Aretha Franklin, Love Hurt All the Way was the end of another chapter in Aretha’s career. At least Love Hurt All the Way, which will be rereleased by BBR Records on 24th September 2012 closed this chapter of Aretha Franklin’s career on a memorable high, with a Grammy Award, and some magical, memorable musical reminders of her early years at Atlantic Records. Standout Tracks: Love Hurt All the Way, There’s A Star For Everyone, It’s My Turn and Search On.
ARETHA FRANKLIN-LOVE HURT ALL THE WAY.