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Soul Express Album of the Month

May 1998

Aretha Franklin: A Rose Is Still a Rose

(US/UK Arista CD, 1998)
1) A Rose Is Still a Rose 2) Never Leave You Again 3) In Case You Forgot 4) Here We Go Again 5) Every Lil' Bit Hurts 6) In the Morning 7) I'll Dip 8) How Many Times 9) Watch My Back 10) Love Pang 11) The Woman

I will horrify a few of you by admitting that I am not a fan of this lady - but this CD just blew me away! I think that it is the very best thing that both she and Arista have released in simply years. Every track without exception is a winner; catering for all tastes and textures of soul music from the more youthful, urban market to the more sophisticated and enduring style that we all seek and crave these days.

The title track is a real monster toe tapper and is very contemporary indeed but still has the Franklin trademark stamped all over it. Awesome. Surprisingly, Sean "Puffy" Combes comes up with a real winner with the classy modern mid-tempo number, Never Leave You Again - check that out.

Daryl Simmons and Dallas Austin come up with 3 monsters and are all superb. Another surprise is the Jermaine Dupri produced track Here We Go Again which relies on the Glow of Love (by Change) piano riff. Excellent material all around!

The real KILLERS are those that can be found on the more mature side of the musical fence, though. Narada Michael Walden delivers his magic on How Many Times which is a tasty ballad, and also provides the KILLER dancer, Watch My Back. We are talking top-drawer soul / dance material here in the same fashion of those monster dancers from the Patti Austin CD.

The ultra talented Michael J. Powell is responsible for a mega soulful ballad in the vein of a typical, classic Chapter 8 track titled Love Pang - pure class. Do not miss this track or the other Powell gem, The Woman, which is just 7 1/2 minutes of soul music heaven.

I cannot fault this album - every track is essential and will definitely be amongst our "best of 98" when we get round to it. Ignore at your peril!
-Barry Towler

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