To merely call Aretha Franklin a soul singer would be woefully inadequate; she’s more than just the Queen of Soul, she’s a force of nature, an artist of such power and originality who had a pervasive impact on mid-‘60s America rivaled only by James Brown. Aretha classics like “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You),” “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Think” achieved, through their flawless execution and moving, earthy arrangements, an absolute, international immortality. In fact, there will never be enough superlatives to adequately characterize that insanely profound, influential and perfectly-realized run of hits produced during her Atlantic Records stint. It was a damn tough act to follow, and observing Aretha adrift at Arista in the ‘80s was almost like a nightmare, one where calcified Svengali Clive Davis’ reinvention campaign managed to almost completely shred any remnant of dignity with the throwaway dance-pop likes of “Freeway of Love” and “Who’s Zoomin’ Who—yet he did also manage the proper degree of dunce-appealing mediocrity to get her records respectable chart positions, ensuring a first-class longevity that eluded so many of her peers. Even though Aretha has come so far from that dazzlingly golden moment when she had the world at her feet and used her alchemical gift for writing and interpreting to essentially change the entire face of both the soul and pop idioms, nothing can ever diminish the power, grace and perfection of her soul-stirring pipes (Jonny Whiteside)
ARETHA FRANKLIN AT THE PECHANGA RESORT & CASINO, 45000 PECHANGA PKWY., TEMECULA, (877) 711-2946; WWW.PECHANGA.COM/HOME.ASP. SAT., 8 P.M.; SUN., 7 P.M. $85-$125.