Apr 12

Aretha Franklin: “Old Landmark”

Aretha Franklin -- Amazing Grace

Or maybe even more appropriately, Amazing Aretha.

We just got back from a short trip to visit family in Springfield, Missouri, an area that is very heavily steeped in Christianity — everywhere you turn there’s another church, sometimes right next door to another one. There’s no escaping the Bible Belt mentality there, and while dealing with that for a little while is fine, I don’t think I could live in that kind of culture for very long. (Had a nice visit with our relatives, though!)

On the plus side, it does put me in a frame of mind to play some great black gospel music (considered a separate genre from “white gospel,” apparently, and for good reason if you hear the two side by side). No excuses are needed to enjoy it, whether you’re religious or not. It’s just great, soulful music, however you look at it. And who better to feature than Aretha Franklin, from her classic live 1972 R&B gospel album, Amazing Grace, widely considered one of the best gospel albums by a popular artist, and one of her best albums of any variety. “Old Landmark,” a gospel standard that you might also recognize as the James Brown-led song in The Blues Brothers movie, is raised up to its pinnacle here by Aretha. With the help of the Southern California Community Choir under the direction of Rev. James Cleveland, Aretha brings down the house so potently as to convert the nonreligious into true believers. True believers in the power of Aretha, at any rate — in this case, hearing is believing!

Previously Reselect-ed songs by Aretha Franklin: “Money Won’t Change You

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