Sunday, July 29, 2012

Aretha Franklin - Jump To It

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Jump To It, the twenty-eighth studio album from the legendary Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin.

Co-produced by Franklin and Luther Vandross, this Gold-certified record from July of 1982 went to number 23 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and number 1 (for seven weeks) on the US Billboard R&B charts. Vandross was involved with the writing of four of the eight tracks.

Side one starts off with the title track. “Jump To It”, released as the first single from the album, went to number 24 on the US Billboard Hot 100 (her first single to do so since 1976), number 4 on the Billboard Dance chart, and number 1 on the Billboard R&B chart (for four weeks). The album track is over six and a half minutes in length, sporting a fantastic funky guitar riff by the song’s co-writer Marcus Miller that fills out the extended groove. Vandross and Cissy Houston provide backing vocals.

The second single “Love Me Right” reached number 22 on the Billboard R&B chart. Songwriter Vandross provides backing vocals on this mid-tempo dance tune. Franklin carries her usual confident attitude for this one’s lyrics.

The tempo slows down for the seductive ballad “If She Don’t Want Your Lovin’”. At the time, Franklin was forty so, with this song, it makes her one of the earliest cougars. On this one she is supported by saxophonist George Young.

The ballad “This Is for Real”, the third and final single, stalled at number 63 on the Billboard R&B chart. The hushed instrumentation allows the spotlight to firmly fall on Franklin and her powerful voice.

Side two opens with “(It’s Just) Your Love”, the B-side to the second single. Her vocal delivery on this one takes on so many textures, showing exactly why she is a singing legend beyond compare. She wrings out such emotion just by extending single syllables for many notes.

“I Wanna Make It Up to You” is the only track on the album penned by Franklin herself; it was released as the B-side to the third single. Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops duets on this one, creating a smoldering sexual foreplay with Franklin.

In 1969, the Isley Brothers took “It’s Your Thing” to the top of the pop and R&B charts. Franklin updates the classic, bringing it into the 80’s with a solid synth/horn/bass mix and a playful attitude too.

The final track, “Just My Daydream”, was written by Smokey Robinson; the track was released as the B-side to the first single of the album. It closes the record with a dreamy, Bossa nova beat and a positive piano melody.

Jump To It is a strong album, showcasing Aretha Franklin’s vocal talent. Vandross places her in a number of settings, knowing she will excel in each of them. If you are a fan of R&B like I am, I am certain you will find plenty of tracks on this record to your favor.

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