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Free (The Paula Recordings)

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Album Review

If Fontella Bass' "Rescue Me" is the best soul single that Aretha Franklin never made, then Free is the lost classic that deserves space in any record collection housing worn-out copies of the Queen of Soul's I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You and Spirit in the Dark. Reuniting Bass with producer Oliver Sain, who helmed her classic mid-'60s sides for Chess, Free draws on the singer's gospel roots to forge a deeply spiritual and moving examination of post-civil rights America. Cuts like "To Be Free," "Talking About Freedom," and "My God, My Freedom, My Home" showcase the remarkable power and poignancy of Bass' vocals, couched beautifully by Sain's nuanced, blues-inspired arrangements. This excellent, well-annotated reissue includes the original 1972 Free LP in its entirety along with four bonus tracks — excellent stuff from a singer unjustly dismissed as a one-hit wonder.


Born: 03 July 1940 in St. Louis, MO

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The 1965 classic "Rescue Me" is widely regarded as the greatest record Aretha Franklin never made. The song in question was instead cut by singer Fontella Bass, who like Franklin channeled the power and passion of her gospel roots to create some of the finest music of soul's golden age. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 3, 1940, Bass was the daughter of gospel vocalist Martha Bass, a longtime member of the renowned Clara Ward Singers. Her grandmother Navada Carter was also a professional gospel...
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Free (The Paula Recordings), Fontella Bass
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