The best female voice ever in the history of rock and roll music? If you believe the Queen of Soul is the answer to this, I would have a hard time disagreeing. Just think of what she did in 1967-68. During this 2 year period she had 13 Top 40 hits. Considering that this coincides with the peak of rock and roll music and it gives you just some perspective of the greatness of Aretha.
1. I Never Loved a Man (Like I Loved You)
From the opening note, this is Aretha declaring a new voice. She had been with Columbia and they had screwed her over, so now with Atlantic recording the blues in Muscle Shoals, it all came together. You hear the voice of confidence and pain all in the same word.
Everything is perfect on this song. The classic Stax-type backing musicians, the killer King Curtis saxophone solo, the great call and refrain from her sisters, and Aretha at her most confident. Greatest anthem ever written.
3. You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman
After the first two songs on this list, you might think Aretha was a hater. Well listen to the depth of passion in her voice for her man. Bluesy and emotional.
4. Chain of Fools
Are you kidding me? The vocals fills here are amazing, as she gets the funk out like Otis Redding and James Brown all thrown together.
5. Night Life
One of the greatest American songs ever written, Aretha owns this Willie Nelson classic. I think it’s her most underrated recording. It’s just one complete holy shit moment listening to it.
6. Since You’ve Been Gone
Between Aretha’s spectacular blues shouting and the total Muscle Shoals in the pocket band, it all works.
This is a classic that just seems to rise higher and higher as the song rolls down the road. No white girl should be allowed to sing this at Kareoke, outside of maybe Joan Osbourne or Kelly Clarkson.
8. Bridge Over Troubled Water/We’ve Only Just Begun (Live 1972)
It took Aretha to really show the pure gospel this Paul Simon was. The live version is even more powerful and she some how mixes a take on Karen Carpenter and makes her totally soulful, as well.
9. I Say a Little Prayer
The Dionne Warwick version of this David/Bacharach piece of musical genius is cool perfection. Aretha brings a different feel, as her voice is like Coltrane doing jazzy improv all over it.
10. (tie) Night Time is the Right Time
She might not exactly be my physical type, but who could have said no to her pleas if she was looking at you when she was singing this honky-tonk shouter.
10. (tie) Let It Be
Pretty remarkable how she could take such classic white boy Paul’s songs (Simon and McCartney) and make them gospel classics.