Aretha Franklin – Save Me


All hail the Queen of Soul.


Listen/Download – Aretha Franklin – Save Me – MP3

Greetings all.
This is going to be brief, since I’ve been fighting a fever since yesterday, and appropriately feel like yesterday’s garbage.
The tune I bring you today is another great “missing the forest for the trees” moment.
I first heard ‘Save Me’ as performed by Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll.
Then someone hepped me to the version by the mighty Nina Simone.
THEN…my man DJ Bluewater came to the Asbury Park 45 Sessions with his very own dub plate of the Wanda Davis version (smoking, of course) from the Midwest Funk compilation.
So I’m all “I wonder what obscure source produced such a popular (and grooving) song?”
A cursory search revealed what a glance at the Brian and Jools label would, that being that the original version of the tune was by that very obscure artist, Aretha Franklin.
That’s right. Aretha co-wrote the tune with King Curtis (and  – I think –  her sister Carolyn) and recorded it on her 1967 ‘I Never Loved a Man The Way I Love You’ LP (along with another minor tune, uh ‘Respect’). It was her debut LP for Atlantic after leaving Columbia, is of course a classic.
The tune opens up with a grinding, ‘Gloria’-esque guitar line, then Aretha (and a churning bass line) drop in and take things to a whole new level. It’s a very rock-ish soul number, and the Queen of Soul even gets to namecheck Batman and the Green Hornet.
When I first heard Aretha’s version, I thought it sounded strangely familiar, and a little internal (brain-based) digging reminded me that the song’s co-composer King Curtis resurrected the backing track two years later for the song ‘Instant Groove’.
It is without question a classic.
I hope you dig it.
I’m going back to the couch…



NOTE: Make sure to check out the Midnight Soulstice show from this past Friday which includes a mix from yours truly. It’s archived for streaming or download here.

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for an iconic Woodstock performance.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

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7 Responses to “Aretha Franklin – Save Me”

  1. Carlos Says:

    I’ve always loved this tune one of my favourite Aretha tunes, in my opinion it’s better than any other version.
    Great post as usual Larry, and get well soon.

  2. Pete W Says:

    May I provide a bit more background on the saga of “Save Me”?
    The riff is presumably inspired by Them’s classic “Gloria” from 1964, and was originally revamped by guitarist Cornell Dupree with (King) Curtis Ousley for Texan blues-rocker Ray Sharpe’s great two-parter in 1966, “Help Me (Get the Feeling)” on Atco – with writers’ credits to Ousley-Dupree-Sharpe. Aretha obviously dug the groove and, working with Curtis, adapted the hook to “Save Me” later the same year, and Curtis himself, not wanting to let a good riff go, had a third stab at it with his own “Instant Groove”. Oh – and contrary to rumour, my ears tell me that it’s surely Dupree, and not Jimi Hendrix, playing guitar on the Ray Sharpe recording. Anybody say different?

  3. funky16corners Says:

    Thanks for the info! I’ll have to look for that Ray Sharpe 45 now.

  4. aburinho Says:

    It’s great. I like too the James Knight’s cover.

  5. Dr Watson Says:

    While you’re looking for the 45 you can find the Ray Sharpe tracks on the compilation ‘Blues & Soul Power: Funky R&B and Rockin’ Soul Crossovers 1964-72′ – not the same as owning the original, but a good stop-gap.

    Cheers for the entry Larry and thanks for the blog

    Dr Watson
    Hove, East Sussex

  6. Ruby Ashtar Says:

    Fantastic track! It’s sampled on Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “The Creator.”

  7. Mike Says:

    Thanks for this great Aretha Franklin track from the Queen of soul. The hair stood up on the back of my neck!

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