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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Aretha Franklin: Love All The Hurt Away


ARETHA FRANKLIN: LOVE ALL THE HURT AWAY (1981)

1) Love All The Hurt Away; 2) Hold On! I'm Comin'; 3) Living In The Streets; 4) There's A Star For Everyone; 5) You Can't Always Get What You Want; 6) It's My Turn; 7) Truth And Honesty; 8) Search On; 9) Whole Lot Of Me; 10) Kind Of Man.

The only good thing that can, overall, characterize these early Eighties Aretha albums is that the Ari­sta people did try not only to modernize her, but to «maturate» her as well. That photo on the front sleeve, for instance — she hadn't looked that stylish or genuine since at least 1970. And the music is always deeper, denser, and darker than on her last Atlantic albums, dropping the giggly disco crap in favour of bombastic adult contemporary... crap.

Half of this album is devoted to instantly forgettable «diva ballads», which, by then, she could probably sing under deep narcosis without any difference, and the other half is primitive electro-pop that would disgust Michael Jackson, let alone Prince. The title track is a duet with George Benson, a first for Aretha — never before did anyone dare to market her singles on a double bill, and, fortunately, this one sold so miserably that she never went on the «Duet Circuit for Pop Di­no­saurs» that made many a good artist into a marketing curio. But the fact that it is a duet at least makes it a standout number.

Well, actually, another standout number is the dance version of 'You Can't Always Get What You Want', a good candidate for the «Top 100 Butchered Classics» of all time list, but also a shocking distraction from the interminable boredom of it all. How I wish to have been able to get inside the mind of the person who came up with the idea of re-recording the song on a foundation of slap bass and cheap synths... then maybe I don't. At least the similar rearrangement of Sam & Dave's 'Hold On! I'm Comin' has this classy brass melody arrangement, putting it closer to the likable rearrangement of 'Can't Turn You Loose' than the Stones' killer job.

None of the other songs are even worth talking about. If you do not have a specific alergy to all that dance crap and deep-soul-by-the-pound as they used to make them in the Eighties, it's all lis­tenable, but nobody gave a damn when writing these songs and Aretha probably didn't give a damn when she sang them, although, her being a professional and all, I couldn't say that she is slacking: the vocals are as powerful as ever, throughout. But great singing from Franklin is a gi­ven, so I just give it a thumbs down for all the evil people who had the nerve to spit on it. (For the record, evil people included several members of Toto — throw on a couple hundred thousand years on the frying-pan, please. Just for justice sake: they probably won't even notice, what with the already accumulated several billion centuries for mass spiritual genocide; I'd rather listen to Love All The Hurt Away over and over again than having to repair my ears from 'Rosanna' just one more time).

5 comments:

  1. Nah, i don't take the final bashing part and i'm far from being a Toto fan. With all your bias to Toto original stuff - c'mon, what's wrong with Toto people on this pop record as a session players?
    I mean, if they were considered skilled and tasty enough to be a backing band on Michael Jackson's Thriller best f..n' seller of all times, they sure were good enough to deal with every Aretha (or others) pop poop coming from those times. (Even more - imho they were overqualified for this poop). And session work or not, at least i can hear their individual touch and punch on that Thriller record, and that's more than i can tell 'bout average professional, but bland and faceless session men of a modern pop industry..

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  2. Dear George,
    I'm so happy to found your blog.
    I have been reading your old site, and you are almost infallible. Due to your site I became familiar with classic rock, like Aerosmith, Rush, Alice Cooper, The Beatles, Hendrix and more. When you said that something is good, it was indeed, and you never missed a chance to show the good things in bad, boring albums too:-)
    Laszlo from Hungary.
    Keep on writing!

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  3. C. A.: Far be it from me to doubt the qualifications of Toto; my point is not to say that if Jeff Porcaro had not played on this album, it would in any way be better. Sometimes, however, it happens that a fine session band can salvage or redeem a weak record. Here, there is nothing of the sort. They don't specifically ruin it, but they do nothing to justify their qualified presence on it. That's BAD.

    Laszlo: thank you and I'm glad the site helped you out, although "infallible" is a pretty strong term for a field as wobbly as pop music reviewing.

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  4. Ok, George, you may have some point here. They might just do here what they told to be done, to have their pocket full of cash, no more than that. Anyway i would not deliver them to a frying-pan on a basis of this little record, but i guess you have your right to be more misanthropic then i do.. After all i'm not suffering half of yours each time i hear Africa and Rosanna on the radio. I would even state, that when i heard their last record by mistake (2006), and it's not that much reminded me of a bad cheesy FM AOR rock i could imagine it might be. Some creative quality was there on some tracks, mind you ("Falling In Between" and "Dying On My Feet" anyone ? Those good heavy-jazz-prog songs alone save them from gates of Hell for me - worth checking them on youtube, if you don't believe me )... Sorry for the off top. :)

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  5. I know this is WAAAAY overdue, but I LOVE Toto! I mean really, there is no reason not to love "Rosanna"- aside from the cringey lyrics, there are so many hooks and the song is so bouncy and cute it's fantastic. And "Africa"? Why, the harmonies in that one (and in PLENTY of other Toto songs) are incredible. It's one of those songs (along with "Don't Stop Believin'", "Hold On Tight" (the ELO song), and ESPECIALLY "Crazy Little Thing Called Love") that I will actively hate if I'm listening to it on the radio, but will LOVE if I'm listening to it on my own free will.
    Now, Toto put out three really great albums- I can't decide which is best, "Toto", "Toto IV", or "Isolation". "Toto" is just so energetic and diverse- it's like an even more diverse version of a less energetic "Outlandos d'Amour"-, "Toto IV" just has SO MANY amazing songs (the singles being "Rosanna", "Make Believe", "I Won't Hold You Back", and "Africa", and the "normal" tracks being "Afraid of Love" and "Lovers in the Night") and "Isolation" has a great sound and a new lead singer and basically one flaw in the lyrics. That's it. Get these three, then proceed with caution- "Fahrenheit" started a bit of a slump, and even though "The Seventh One" kinda brought things back, "Kingdom of Desire" and the rest just bore the heck outta me. But really, just get the first five albums and see. It'll be worth it. Don't hate on "Rosanna".

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