Sidetracks: “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)

I’ve been going through a bit of an Aretha Franklin phase lately, so it seemed serendipitous when she popped up in social media for her latest album ‘Aretha Sings The Great Diva Classics’.  It’s both a remarkable testament to her talent, as well as a saddening realization, that this iteration of Aretha Franklin is by far her weakest. Her voice- though still far better than most- is a shell of what it once was, and it seems shameless that she should have to stoop to cover “Rolling In The Deep”.  

Her career followed a remarkable path from child gospel piano prodigy, to Sam Cooke protege, Columbia Records cast-off, and then her tremendous run with Atlantic Records before trailing off in the seventies with a period rivaling the decades’ own in a search for a new identity.  

That is not to say that Aretha isn’t a masterful interpreter. “Respect” was an Otis Redding song, “Chain of Fools” was written by Don Covey, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” was a Carol King number, “I Say A Little Prayer” was Hal David and Burt Bacharach. Still, “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” was an outlier in her catalogue.

It was originally a Stevie Wonder song, though he hadn’t released a recording of it (and wouldn’t until his 1977 ‘Anthology’) before he showed it to Franklin. Listening to his original now only demonstrates just how much Franklin improves the bones of the original composition.  

The chord progression is pure Stevie Wonder, though he buried the melodic motif that becomes the centerpiece of Franklin’s version.  The rhythm section is also mostly straightforward, and Stevie’s singing conveys the material as almost naive heartbreak.

Truly, Aretha’s version is superior, thanks in part due to her magnificent backing band. Franklin plays the piano, Donny Hathaway fills in on the bouncing (and almost hidden) Fender Rhodes, Hugh McCracken plays the only guitar, while Chuck Rainey (bass) and Bernard Purdie (drums) fill out the rhythm section.  

It’s Rainey and Purdie who hold the key, playing with a hitched gait that elongates Franklin’s vocal phrases and Franklin herself, who conveys that desperation as hopeful despair. The flute solo, in vogue at the time, is truly the only flaw.

Inner Grooves:

Songwriters:

Morris Broadnax, Clarence Paul, Stevie Wonder

Personnel:

Aretha Franklin: Piano, Vocals
Margaret Branch: Backing vocals
Pat Smith: Backing vocals
Donny Hathaway: Electric Piano (Rhodes)
Richard Tee: Organ
Kenneth Bichel: Synthesizer
Hugh McCracken: Guitar
Chuck Rainey: Bass
Bernard Purdie: Drums

Further Connections:

Bonnie Raitt’s album ‘Nick of Time’. Similar vocal phrasing and dynamics.

Aretha Franklin – Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)

Heartache, Heartbreak

 

1. One Rainy Wish- Jimi Hendrix

One Rainy Wish- Jimi Hendrix

2. Back To Where I Started- Derek Trucks Band

Back Where I Started- Derek Trucks Band

3.  Promises- Eric Clapton

Promises- Eric Clapton

4. Caught by the River- Doves

Caught by the River- Doves

5. Every Night- Paul McCartney

Every Night- Paul McCartney

6. So You’re Leaving- Al Green

So You’re Leaving- Al Green

7. Jealous Guy- Donny Hathaway

Jealous Guy- Donny Hathaway

8. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)- Otis Redding

I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)- Otis Redding

9. Love In Vain- The Rolling Stones

Love In Vain- The Rolling Stones

10. Have You Ever Loved A Woman- Derek and the Dominoes

Have You Ever Loved A Woman (Live)- Derek And the Dominoes

11. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart- Al Green

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart- Al Green

12. Baby, Baby, Baby- Aretha Franklin

Baby, Baby, Baby- Aretha Franklin

13. I Want You- Bruce Springsteen

I Want You- Bruce Springsteen

14. Burning of the Midnight Lamp- Jimi Hendrix

Burning of the Midnight Lamp- Jimi Hendrix

15. Layla- Derek and the Dominoes

Layla- Derek and the Dominoes

16. This Love of Mine- Frank Sinatra

This Love Of Mine- Frank Sinatra

17. Breakin Up- G. Love

Breakin Up- G. Love

18. Oh Darling- The Beatles

Oh! Darling- The Beatles

19. In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning- Frank Sinatra

In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning- Frank Sinatra

A Mixtape Monday Presentation: Summer Daze

Courtesy of Boston.com

This weeks mix comes out as a mixtape should, i.e. its meant to be played in the order presented, treat it like its a CD, the tracks are in their order for a reason.  This one is yet another summer inspired mix with an eclectic range of musicians and styles, and toeing the line between both retro and modern, all the artists are great, and if you like them, support them.  And let me know what you think of the mix, leave me a comment.  But without further ado, your mix ladies and gents, after the jump.

Continue reading A Mixtape Monday Presentation: Summer Daze

Art of the Mixtape Presents: Hearts of Summer

Finally a day off of work and a new mixtape to celebrate the beautiful summer weather, this mix features some new releases and old favorites, all in 100 percent summer mode, some you might have heard of, others maybe not, but this mix is meant to be played in track order, a sublime summer celebration.  The full mix after the jump.

Continue reading Art of the Mixtape Presents: Hearts of Summer