Most helpful positive review
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
When this plays, I'm 16 again
on March 20, 2004
Although a hit-and-miss quality may have come later, frankly, no album by Aretha Franklin originally released between 1967 and 1974 was a weak one. The "Spirit In The Dark" LP, Atlantic 8265, arrived smack-center in that golden zone on August 24, 1970. I distinctly remember her introducing "Don't Play That Song," which came out as a 45 (Atlantic 2751) on July 20th, on the Johnny Carson show. Then it was hurry as fast as one could to a record store - you didn't dawdle once you knew she had a new one. Put on this song (and maybe Bread's "Make It With You") and it's the summer of '70 again. Oh, how good it sounded starting up on the car radio!
Much as she did with Otis Redding's "Respect," she here takes B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone" and makes a lasting personal imprint yet again. Best with headphones on, where it's just you and her voice and magnificent piano work, with all other distractions locked out. "Spirit In The Dark" (which, along with "Thrill," was another single, Atlantic 2731, 5/7/70) is one of the best examples of gospel-meets-secular in Aretha's catalog. Fully five of Aretha's own compositions are contained here - the most she put on a single album. Among these, both "Pullin'" and "You And Me" also saw release as B-sides on singles.
For me, the great jewel in this one was and still is Gerry Goffin & Carole King's "Oh No Not My Baby." A happy song, with everyone warning Aretha that the guy's no good, but she triumphs in the end: "Yesterday he gave me a ring..." Listening to Franklin's jubilant delivery, one can't help mentally listing other items from the Goffin-King songbook we could wish Aretha had also interpreted. (Imagine the serious warning she might have delivered on "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby'"!)
This one won't fail you, folks. Like all others from this period, Aretha's work was mistake-proof. And to whom it may concern: as I've stated elsewhere in the case of Berry Gordy Jr., isn't it high time Miss Franklin received the accolade of the Kennedy Center Honors?