Rock! Steady! Rock! Steady!
When I think of Aretha Franklin, I don’t think of funk. Not even a little bit. I think, “Queen of Soul.” I think, best female R&B vocalist of all-time. But not funk, not Aretha. No way.
She wrote this.
I’ll say it again.
SHE WROTE THIS.
What it is….it’s a funky and lowdown feeling…true. But what it really is is the funkiest three minutes and change Aretha Franklin ever committed to tape.
It ain’t long enough. Oh, I’ve heard remixes and alternate versions that stretch the song out a bit, but this version right here, the hit version—just ain’t long enough. But it packs a whole lot of punch in those three-plus minutes.
I’ve read where that is session drummer extraordinaire Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on the drums. If so, that’s one heck of a breakdown those drums are putting down. I’ve also heard and read that Donny Hathaway, aka Lalah’s dad, aka the late great Donny Hathaway, is on the organ and did arrange this song. Not too long before this, Hathaway had started his own solo career. And whoever that is on the bass—Chuck Rainey, Robert “Pops” Popwell or whoever—they are keeping that groove rolling. Throw in Aretha’s sisters Carolyn and Erma on the background vocals, the Memphis Horns and of course that golden voice of Aretha’s…blend all that and more together and you got funk.
I can’t think of too many other songs Aretha Franklin ever released that groove as hard as this does. Like I said, I’m thinking “Queen of Soul.” But for this one song, she was a queen of funk. If you’ve never heard it, get some of this in your life. If you have heard it, thrill to it all over again. I know I will!
“Rock Steady” is the Funky Friday jam for the week. Enjoy it, embrace it, be funkified by it! Thanks for reading and listening, and I hope you have a great weekend!