"My Way"---Aretha Franklin
Aretha is a soul goddess of such epic proportions that a formal introduction to her legacy shouldn't be required for anyone who regularly visits this site. She's released a number of amazing cover tunes over the span of her career, but her version of Frank Sinatra's "My Way" stands out as unique because most of her fans have never had an opportunity to hear it. She recorded the song in 1970, but at the time, it was released exclusively on an Italian compilation. For whatever reason, the track wasn't released in the U.S. until this past year, when it appeared on the Atlantic Unearthed: Soul Sisters LP. At any rate, it's a stunning rendition of the song, and Aretha's vocal performance is every bit as engaging as you might expect.
"Subwoofer"---Count Bass D
Despite the fact that Dwight Farrell is a multi-talented producer/ MC with a fairly extensive discography, many hip-hop fans still don't acknowledge his work. "Subwoofer" makes reference to Subroc, MF Doom's deceased brother, but D also name-checks several other celebrities on the joint. It's hard not to appreciate a guy who can philosophize about Spinderella, Jeffrey Dahmer, Desmond Tutu, and Timothy McVeigh on the same track---at least for me. If this is your kind of dope, you can purchase the Dwight Spitz LP (2002) here.
"Survival Of The Fittest"---Mobb Deep
It depresses me to think that there's a whole new generation of hip-hop babies out there who are under the impression that Mobb Deep always sucked. Not true. In fact, The Infamous (1995) was the very definition of grimy when it first hit the streets---and I mean that in the best possible way. Nas, Ghostface, Raekwon, and Q-Tip all made guest appearances, contributing to the powerful chemistry that made this record an undeniable masterpiece. Unfortunately, Havoc and Prodigy have steadily fallen off over the years, to the point where they have become somewhat of a parody of themselves (Black Eyed Peas, anyone?). Hangin' with 50 Cent was a bad enough idea---let's just hope they never try to revive their career by cutting a record with Fergie...
"Honey Dove"---Lee Fields (Problems LP version)
Many soul fans have heard the version of "Honey Dove" that Fields recorded with The Expressions. The Truth & Soul label released it as a 7" in 2004, and later re-issued it on a compilation called Fallin' Off The Reel, Vol. 1 (2006). The track was championed by a number of music bloggers and writers last year, but I don't remember anyone mentioning that Fields had previously released the track on his Problems LP (2002). Both versions of this song can easily be described as soul perfection, but the original happens to be my personal favorite.
For anyone who's interested, the Problems LP has an overall funkier and more uptempo vibe than "Honey Dove" might suggest. As a bonus, I'm posting one other track from the album that will give you an idea of what his music sounds like at the other end of the spectrum:
"Clap Your Hands"---Lee Fields
View his complete discography here.
Word From Your Moms:
"Once you label me you negate me"---Soren Kierkegaard