Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"Freeway of Love" by Aretha Franklin

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2370
Date:  06/22/1985
Debut:  54
Peak:  3
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Franklin grabbed her first gold album in years with her third Arista effort Jump to It, which featured the #1 R&B title track. Produced by Luther Vandross, he gave the album a more contemporary R&B feel that helped attract a new audience. However, her Luther-produced follow-up LP, Get It Right, couldn't maintain the same audience and didn't do as well. After the album's lackluster results, Franklin began paying more attention to what was happening in pop music. She liked the new sounds that were being developed and wanted to get in on the action. For her next LP, she brought on board hot producer Narada Michael Walden and the pair set out to modernize Franklin's sound. The results were issued in the new album Freeway of Love and the title track got things kicked off. The song would end up being her biggest hit in years reaching #1 at R&B, #3 Pop, #1 Dance, and #11 AC. The single's success would spur album sales and Franklin would be awarded the first platinum seller of her career. The song would also earn two Grammys - one for Best R&B Song and one for Best R&B Performance, Female, for Franklin. It was her 18th Grammy win.

ReduxReview:  How big of a deal was this song? Major. Franklin hadn't had a Top 10 Pop hit since 1973 and she was considered an ol' school artist by this time (at a ripe old age of 43!). Although she was still the Queen of Soul, no one expected her to have any more hits or have the ability to complete with the new 80s superstars. Then this song hit the airwaves and it completely clicked. It also helped that the song's video got her in heavy rotation at MTV, which was a significant accomplishment. Franklin was not only back, but the song kicked off a big revival of her career that lasted for quite a while. Not many artists get a second career with a newer, younger audience, but Franklin knew it was possible and she did it. This is a classic 80s track and it still holds up today. Just the opening percussion and hand claps is all it takes for folks to recognize this song. The production was outstanding, the song was great, the sax was hot, and Franklin sold it like no one else. Just brilliant.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In addition to his songwriting and production career, Walden had also maintained a solo career since his debut album in 1976. Along the way he gathered a few R&B chart entries including two Top 10's. Walden had originally written this song as a possible candidate for one of his solo albums. It didn't make the cut, but when he began recording with Franklin, he thought the song might work for her.  2) The sax part was performed by E Street Band member Clarence Clemons.


No comments:

Post a Comment