Unboxing Aretha Franklin’s “A Portrait of the Queen” Box Set (1970-1974)
This box set is a treasure trove for soul music enthusiasts and Aretha Franklin fans alike.
Unboxing “A Portrait of the Queen”
This box set is a collection of five classic Aretha albums from the early ’70s, along with a sixth bonus LP featuring session alternatives, outtakes, and demos. The albums have been remastered from the original analog master tapes by Grammy-winning engineer Chris Bellman, ensuring top-notch audio quality.
The original albums within this collection have been expertly remastered from the analog master tapes.
This intricate process was overseen by Grammy® Award-winning engineer Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering.
The production was led by Grammy® Award-winner Cheryl Pawelski, ensuring a blend of authenticity and contemporary finesse.
The box set includes the critically acclaimed album “Young, Gifted, & Black,” released in 1972. This album not only reached #2 on Billboard’s R&B albums chart but also secured the #11 spot on the Billboard Top 200.
Significantly, “Young, Gifted, & Black” was certified GOLD and won the 1972 Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
Rolling Stone honored the album by ranking it at number 388 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The set features “This Girl’s In Love With You,” notable for its first commercial release of “Let It Be,” which remarkably debuted 2 months ahead of The Beatles’ version.
Both “This Girl’s In Love With You” and “Spirit In The Dark” are distinguished by the contributions of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm section and an appearance by the legendary Duane Allman.
The production prowess of Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Arif Mardin is a hallmark of these albums, adding a layer of historical and musical significance to the collection.
The Listening Experience
The pressing quality of these vinyl records is exceptional. They are silent, devoid of any rumble, clicks, or paper dust, making for a pristine listening experience. The standout album for me is “Spirit in the Dark,” particularly due to Aretha’s powerful rendition of B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone.”
The Booklet: A Deep Dive into Aretha’s Artistry
The accompanying booklet is a highlight, offering a track-by-track analysis and a deep dive into each album. It’s a fantastic resource for fans to understand the context and creation of these iconic albums.
Why This Box Set Stands Out
This box set is not just about the music; it’s about the experience. From the meticulous remastering to the thoughtful packaging and the informative booklet, every aspect has been crafted to honor Aretha Franklin’s legacy. The use of polylined sleeves is a testament to the care put into this collection.
“A Portrait of the Queen” is a must-have for Aretha Franklin enthusiasts and soul music lovers. It’s a journey through a pivotal period in Aretha’s career, showcasing her evolution as an artist and her undeniable impact on the music world. The quality of the remastering makes this collection a valuable addition to any vinyl collection.
In conclusion, “A Portrait of the Queen” is a beautifully curated box set that pays homage to Aretha Franklin’s immense talent and legacy. It’s a collection that not only offers great music but also a rich, immersive experience into the world of one of soul music’s greatest icons.
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Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine