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  1. These songs are all excellent choices, if a little predictable. But for me the Aretha song, which sits outside her classic Atlantic repertoire, and yet to my mind shows her at her most emotional is ‘Sweet Bitter Love’, written by Van McCoy. She first recorded it for CBS and Richard Williams recently wrote that it was possibly the most heartfelt and personal of all the songs she sung. I think the version Richard was referring to was one of the CBS recordings. But for me the version she cut on her otherwise rather patchy ‘Who’s Zooming Who’ album for Arista is one of the best things she ever recorded. With elegant piano from Nat Adderley Jnr and strings, Aretha starts slow and low with a spoken introduction before building the song into an ecstatic piece of gospel-soul. Only Whitney came close to the bitter-sweet spirals that Aretha goes into in the closing choruses. After reaching the peaks, Aretha takes it down to an elegant ending. Farewell to the greatest female singer of the twentieth century.

  2. Yes, Paul, you’re right, but they were the ones I happened to write about for RBP! And the “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” version is just as great as you eloquently point out, with its totally gorgeous hushed ending. The unreleased demo that Richard writes about is staggering in its intimacy. Hats off to Van McCoy, too: “Oh my sweet bitter love / Why have you awakened / And then forsaken / A trusting heart like mine…”

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