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Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin 1980-1998

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Album Review

Legacy's Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin 1980-1998 is the first serious attempt at chronicling Aretha's RCA and Arista recordings since her stint at the label wrapped up. In between 1994's Greatest Hits (1980-1994) and this 2012 collection, there was 2003's Platinum & Gold, released as part of BMG's ongoing new millennium midline series, which hit the high points but also shoehorned in "Respect" and "Think," two classics that don't fit in this context even when placed at the beginning of the collection. Knew You Were Waiting never attempts to disguise itself as something other than a retrospective of the Queen's last act and, by doing so, it makes a convincing case that Aretha's '80s work was pretty strong on its own merits. Most of the record is devoted to her work with Narada Michael Walden — the producer behind her smash 1985 LP Who's Zoomin' Who, he has credits on seven of the 16 cuts here, including the hits "Freeway of Love," "Who's Zoomin' Who," the George Michael duet "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)," the Elton John duet "Through the Storm," and the Whitney Houston duet "It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be" — and this crisp, synth-heavy soul-pop remains bright and cheery, having aged particularly well. So have the early-'80s quiet storm "United Together," "Love All the Hurt Away," and the two Luther Vandross productions "Jump to It" and "Get It Right," all four sleekly appealing in their smooth surfaces, leaving the '90s coda as the only cuts that don't quite convince, but even so, Knew You Were Waiting is a more than worthwhile chronicle of the Queen of Soul's late-career peak.

Customer Reviews

The Best Sounding Collection To Date

While this collection is comprehensive and the best sound to date, I have issues with some of the edits. This disc is pretty generous yes and I understand most of Aretha's recordings hit the six minute mark and to include the original running length of these songs just isn't possible on conventional cd's . One unnecessary edit is "Another Night" which is only 20 seconds short of the the album version, the song's intro is edited to the vocal pickup, that's it. I'm happy the Michael McDonald duet "Ever Changing Times" is here, sad it's the edited version, and never understood why Michael overlooked this song when putting together both of his "Best Of" albums. While I do hope there will be a collection of Aretha's extended singles or the mixes become available on iTunes and some of the tracks are dated thanks to 80's histrionics this collection justifies Aretha's renaissance during her Arista tenure.


The poor sound on my Aretha favorites have steered me away from purchasing them on iTunes until this collection. "Who's Zoomin' Who" and 3 others were immediate downloads for me. Now, iTunes let's work on offering an abundance of this diva's work with the sound quality and unediting that she deserves. Quite frankly, your customers shouldn't have to ask for this--it should be a given considering her contributions to the music industry and her longevity.


Born: March 25, 1942 in Memphis, TN

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Aretha Franklin is one of the giants of soul music, and indeed of American pop as a whole. More than any other performer, she epitomized soul at its most gospel-charged. Her astonishing run of late-'60s hits with Atlantic Records -- "Respect," "I Never Loved a Man," "Chain of Fools," "Baby I Love You," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Think," "The House That Jack Built," and several others -- earned her the title "Lady Soul," which she has worn uncontested ever since. Yet as much of an international institution...
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