Aretha Franklin / Aretha 4CD box set

Four CD box offers unreleased rarities • Remastered

Rhino will issue Aretha, a new Aretha Franklin four-CD box set that collects hits, alternate versions, demos, rarities and live tracks.

Arranged mostly in chronological order, Aretha features 81 newly remastered tracks, 19 of which are previously unreleased. This set starts way back in 1956 with ‘Never Grow Old’ and ‘You Grow Closer’ which were released as her first single, before moving into the 1960s, when Franklin was signed to Columbia.

However, the majority of Aretha focuses on her tenure with Atlantic Records between 1967 and 1979. ‘My Kind Of Town (Detroit Is)’ and ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ from CD 1  are home demos that she recorded in 1966 to give Atlantic executive and producer Jerry Wexler.

The box set includes the hits but often these are included as different versions, like alternate takes of ‘Chain Of Fools’, ‘Rock Steady’ and ‘Spanish Harlem’; live recordings of ‘Baby I Love You’ and ‘Don’t Play That Song’; and ‘Think’ recorded for The Blues Brothers soundtrack.

The Arista era isn’t forgotten and this set includes ‘Jump To It’, ‘Freeway Of Love’ and collaborations like ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves’ with Eurythmics and ‘I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)’ with George Michael.

Aretha ends with her memorable performance of ‘(You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman’ at The 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.

This set comes with a booklet with sleeve notes by Rochelle Riley (author and director of arts and culture for the City of Detroit) and David Nathan, a music journalist and soul historian who interviewed Franklin more times than any other living writer.

Aretha is released on 30 July 2021 (was 20 November 2020) via Rhino and 2LP and single CD ‘highlights’ versions are also available.

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Aretha Franklin

Aretha - 4CD box set


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Aretha Franklin

Aretha Highlights - 2LP vinyl


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Aretha Franklin

Aretha Highlights - single CD



CD 1

“Never Grow Old”
“You Grow Closer”
“Today I Sing The Blues”
“Won’t Be Long”
“Are You Sure”
“Operation Heartbreak”
“Runnin’ Out Of Fools”
“One Step Ahead”
“(No, No) I’m Losing You”
“Cry Like A Baby”
“A Little Bit Of Soul”
“My Kind Of Town (Detroit Is)” – Demo *
“Try A Little Tenderness” – Demo *
“I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)”
“Do Right Woman – Do Right Man”
“A Change Is Gonna Come”
“Chain Of Fools” – Alternate Version
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – UK Single Version
“(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone”
“Ain’t No Way”
“My Song”
“You Send Me”
“The House That Jack Built”
“Tracks Of My Tears”

CD 2

“Baby I Love You” – Live
“Son Of A Preacher Man”
“Call Me” – Alternate Version *
“Let It Be”
“Young, Gifted And Black” – Alternate Longer Take *
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Long Version
“It’s Not Unusual/See Saw” – with Tom Jones *
(Originally Broadcast On This Is Tom Jones, October, 9, 1970)
“You’re All I Need To Get By” – Work Tape *
“Brand New Me” – Work Tape *
“Spanish Harlem” – Alternate Mix *
“Rock Steady” – Alternate Mix/Take
“Day Dreaming”
“Share Your Love With Me” – Live
“Don’t Play That Song” – Live
“Dr. Feelgood” – Live
“Spirit In The Dark” (Reprise with Ray Charles) – Live
“How I Got Over” (Single Edit) – Live
“Master Of Eyes (The Deepness Of Your Eyes)”

CD 3

“Somewhere” – Alternate Version *
“Angel” – Work Tape *
“The Boy From Bombay” *
“Til It’s Over” – Demo *
“Oh Baby” (a.k.a. “There’s Something Magic About You”) – Demo *
“Until You Come Back To Me” – Work Tape *
“I’m In Love” – Alternate Vocal
“Without Love”
“Mr. D.J. (5 For The D.J.)”
“Something He Can Feel”
“Look Into Your Heart”
“Break It To Me Gently”
“When I Think About You”
“Almighty Fire (Woman Of The Future)”
“Ladies Only” – Short Version
“You Light Up My Life” *
“Ooo Baby Baby” – with Smokey Robinson *
(Originally Broadcast On Soul Train, December 1, 1979)
“Amazing Grace”
(Originally Broadcast On Royal Variety Performance, November 23, 1980)

CD 4

“I Say A Little Prayer” – with Dionne Warwick *
“United Together”
“Jump To It”
“The Wind”
“Freeway Of Love”
“Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” – Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin
“I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) – Aretha Franklin and George Michael
“Oh Happy Day” – with Mavis Staples (Live at New Bethel Baptist Church, Detroit, MI –
July 1987)
“A Rose Is Still A Rose”
“Someday We’ll All Be Free”
“The Makings Of You”
“Nessun Dorma” – Live
“At Last” – with Lou Rawls *
(Originally Broadcast On American Soundtrack: Rhythm, Love And Soul, March 2003)
“You’ve Got A Friend” – Ronald Isley featuring Aretha Franklin
“Rolling In The Deep” – The Aretha Version
“My Country ’Tis Of Thee”
“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” – Live *
(Originally Broadcast On The 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, December 19. 2015)


2-LP vinyl (same track listing on a single CD)

Side One

“Never Grow Old”
“Today I Sing The Blues”
 “One Step Ahead”
 “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)”
“A Change Is Gonna Come”

Side Two

“Chain Of Fools” – Alternate Version
“Call Me” – Alternate Version *
“Rock Steady” – Alternate Mix/Take
“How I Got Over” (Single Edit) – Live

Side Three

“Master Of Eyes (The Deepness Of Your Eyes)”
“Until You Come Back To Me” – Work Tape *
“Something He Can Feel”
“You Light Up My Life” *

Side Four

“Freeway Of Love”
 “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) – Aretha Franklin and George Michael
“Someday We’ll All Be Free”
“A Rose Is Still A Rose”
“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” – Live*
(Originally Broadcast On The 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors 12/19/15)

*Previously Unreleased Audio 

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Dean 66

Anyone else had a cancelation e-mail on this box?

John W

yes. maybe because i’m in ireland and shipping is now complicated? seems to be still available


Release postponed until July 30, 2021 as mentioned on amazon.

Francis Maher

Has the movie been rescheduled ? Has there been a over subscription. Damn you corona virus if it is you .


As a follow-up to the comment I just submitted, the other related releases (LP, single CD) still list a November 30 release date, so either the box set date change is in error, they haven’t changed the other items yet, or the label is still releasing those as a tease of the larger set to follow. Thanks for anything you can find out, Paul.


US site also has July for the box, vinyl 20 November and CD 4 December


Got a notice from Amazon today: This release has apparently been delayed until next July 30!? I’ll be curious to see if you can find out the reason for the delay from the label, Paul. Disappointing!

dennis f.

i’ve kind of given up on a “definitive” box set from aretha because she’s been on several labels over the years and the compilers of every compilation or greatest hits package have different ideas of what should be included… i love her version of “jumping jack flash,” her duet with michael mcdonald, “ever changing times,” “who’s zoomin’ who,” and her version of “think” from “the blues brothers” movie. those are not here in this set. so last year, i just went to itunes and downloaded my own “greatest hits” compilation…


Finally some tracks from her last 5 Atlantic albums will get a CD release. Let’s hope that those albums and unreleased vault tracks will come out very soon.
This box has nice rarities like Someday We’ll All Be Free or a rare BBC version of Amazing Grace. I can’t wait to have this!!!

David Carroll

Fantastic news…l can’t wait to get this ! Forget about the 19 previously unreleased recordings…there are 70 tracks on here l don’t have in total. I’ve got a pretty healthy Aretha collection already ; THE QUEEN OF SOUL ( 2014 version) 4cds,RARE AND UNRELEASED RECORDINGS FROM THE GOLDEN REIGN OF THE QUEEN OF SOUL (2007) 2cds, LIVE AT THE FILLMORE WEST (2006) expanded 2 cd version and AMAZING GRACE (1999) expanded 2 cd version…and l’ll only duplicate 11 tracks from these. I think this box set is a major windfall for Aretha fans .

David Carroll

Oooops I meant 59 tracks.


Unless I missed it, no Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Seriously?

adam karrington

“Ooo Baby Baby” – with Smokey Robinson *
(Originally Broadcast On Soul Train, December 1, 1979)

this right here alone is the highlight


I’m debating. Do I really need this when I already own the Columbia collection, the Arista collection and the Amazin Grace one?



You definitely need something from her Atlantic years, arguably the best period of her career. The 4-cd set “Queen of Soul – The Atlantic Recordings” is recommended (and cheap).

Her three “eras” where very different in repertoire & sound: Columbia (jazz/blues/standards/show tunes), Atlantic (soul), Arista (pop/R&B).



Thanks much. It was late over here and I looked again – I mistyped. I do have her

– Columbia Collection (11 CDs)
– Atlantic Collection (19 CDs)
– Atlantic Collection (6 LPs)
– Amazing Grace Complete (4 LPs)

So it looks I mistyped – I have nothing from her Arista time. :)

That said, is this new collection something I should get or pass on?


I’m not feeling the love for this at over £50! Rhino’s previous 4 CD compilation Queen Of Soul now sells for £10.79 on Amazon. While it only has tracks from the Atlantic era it’s a great compilation. For £10 more than this set, you can still get the 19 Disc Atlantic albums set. Sorry but I’ll pass on this unless it drops considerably in price

A.W. de Boer

I,m so glad that there is something new from The Queen and I hope the 5 not yet released albums will see the light on cd!

Stephen K

I would have hoped there was an “Arista Singles” set to follow up the “Atlantic Singles” set from a little while ago.

Francis Maher

Anyone with any interest in Aretha will have the “Hits”. I’ll take this 4cd mix and if its successful I’ll have another . Please . Have the rare and unreleased recordings 2cd . Great . What a year for SDEs , hope I run out of money before I run out of space .

Woodsey Niles

“The box set includes the hits but often these are included as different versions…”

I love Aretha but I think a truly comprehensive box set should include the original versions of the “hits” before it delves into obscure, alternate versions. This box is obviously aimed more at the completists rather than those who just want the hits. I’m somewhere in the middle. I love box sets full of esoterica but the original hit versions should come first.


I agree, if you don’t already have the hits, you probably dont realky like Aretha. On a side note, beyond basic hits and rarities, there are four albums from the Atlantic period that are yet to see a digital release.


Good to see some of the tracks from those albums finally making an appearance on official cd. Long overdue, but maybe this will lead to those albums finally being released in full. Hope is a good thing.


I agree. I was beyond elated when I read the track listing. This is on top of my 2020 wishlist.


Ill be buying this when amazon decides to ship outside of their local country.
Artwork is a choice, but, hopefully looks better in the flesh.


Artwork looks like a David Nathan special – he used a similar type format way back on his Ichiban Soul Classics series.


Actually by a Harlem artist Makeba KEEBS Rainey.


Paul, have a slight query… Back earlier this year, having read about it on SDE, I purchased Suzanne Vegas’ Evening In New York – both the signed test pressing (limited to 30 worldwide) and the red vinyl (with signed playlist) limited to 200 copies. It now appears Ms Vegas Tmstor.es is offering both formats as it allowed me to put both in my checkout basket before I bailed out at payment. Did I empty my basket too soon or is something amiss??


It’d be nice to see an Atlantic Records 1970s Collection vinyl box set (From “This Girl’s In Love With You” up to “Sparkle”), actually just release This Girl’s In Love With You, Spirit In The Dark and Young Gifted & Black on vinyl and I’d be happy – those last two alone are probably the peak of her career in terms of cohesive albums.
This release looks alright, but it does make me question why the released albums aren’t readily available on vinyl before outtakes & alternate takes (I’ve got The Atlantic Albums Collection Box Set on cd, but it doesn’t really sound anywhere near as good as the vinyl and I’ve got a very modest setup).

Angel Moreno

Loved “believe Aretha herself blocked CD releases of her late 70s albums. I am not familiar with those albums but always wanted to hear them. There are some tracks included here which makes me want this set even more. Hopefully the actual albums will get a CD debut at some point.” Yes please reissue Aretha’s latest 70’s cd’s on Atlantic


I second that…

Terry Settle

The version of You make me feel, for the Carole King tribute is simply brilliant. Worth the money on its own.

Larry Davis

Pretty good…nice balance of hits & rarities, released & unreleased, expected & surprise…but it really shoulda been more than 4 discs…yet I think Rhino wanted to make it affordable to all…at least all label eras are covered…appealing to both casual and hardcore fans/collectors…

Mister Stick

I live in what some call the “long skirt” of Motor City, where the Great Queen Aretha will always reign supreme. In these parts, you hear more than just her songs – you hear the tales of her often rocky but ultimately monumental life. What R-E-S-P-E-C-T she didn’t earn with her great gifts, and commanding presence, she took with her fiery and fearless manner. She was equal parts soft shoulder and steely-eyed outlaw. Once summoned to a traffic court for her umpteenth moving violation, she paid the fine then ran over a stop sign on her way out of the parking lot. There is no more universally inspirational figure to the women I have known than ‘Retha.

A stretch of Michigan highway was named for her last month – nice, but not tangible. You can’t really experience her spirit on a slice of asphalt, even if it is already being referred to as… Wait for it… Wait for it… The Freeway Of Love (well, of course it is). And one place you can get an existential zap, The Aretha Franklin Amphitheater, is obviously closed for the time being.

So, to see her given a new and proper career-spanning review, with rare and unreleased work, is so welcome now, two years after she left town for good, and what feels like a decade into this pandemical wilderness. Particularly since the reports that a lot of her recordings went up in smoke when the Universal archive was lost in a negligent fire. Her tapes probably burned a little hotter than some of the others.

Usually, when I am cruising SDE, I’m salivating over the next big treat I want to give myself. This time, though, I see something that I can’t wait to give away, especially to the younger women in my circles, this Christmas. If I can even wait that long.

Long live The Queen.

Thanks much, Paul.

Keith Spedding

What a lovely, lovely write-up. A joy to read, sir.


Mr Stick

I am rather glad that you raised this topic. For those of us here in Detroit that had direct dealings with Ms Franklin, the experience was simply dreadful.

It is well publicized that she has a cavalier approach to her bills and this is easily found by a simple search. Her home in Bloomfield Hills flamed up with an accelerant, her condo association, the Hills of Lone Pine sued her and so did a bunch of other people. These were not isolated incidents but went on for years and years and hurt many ordinary folks that could not take the lack of payment.

Her legacy is not golden and she was not some sort of glamorous outlaw character. She was an extraordinary artist who’s personal life and decisions tarnished her reputation during her life in our community and afterwards

As for that album cover…..at best comedy by someone.

Woodsey Niles

What always concerned me about Aretha Franklin was her years of heavy chain smoking that all but destroyed her vocal power and range by the 1980’s. Aretha, Ray Charles, James Brown, Chuck Berry – these are the geniuses who helped to form my musical tastes from childhood on – imperfections aside. It’s probably better that all we ever knew about them was their extraordinary musical gifts – and ultimately that should be all that matters to us. After all, all any of them ever owes us is their best effort performance-wise. Save the rest for the biopic.


Agree about the smoking. Couldn’t have put it better really. Imagine how much better she could’ve preserved her voice, instead we got things like the screamfest in “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” :( A shame because her early/classic recordings are among the best any female vocalist has ever made.

Mister Stick

Monsieur Hedley:

Thanks for your comment. I cede this chess piece to you or anyone who circled closer to Planet Aretha than I – which would be most of Wayne County. Sure, I’ve read some of what you mention, from son Eddie being a suspected firebug to ‘Retha stiffing some limo company who were called to courier KFC to her joint. And, my only personal intermediary to her was quick to use the word ‘difficult’. I didn’t equate Aretha’s outlaw side with glamour, though. I just said she was one tough cookie. But you’d have to be if you’d been through the wringer of her teenage years.

The core of my soap box speech is that the personae Aretha presented so convincingly on records – especially those she wrote, like “Think” – made her a heroine to more women I know than any other artist. Only Janet Jackson comes close to that status. Oh, and that girl from Bay City… People say she can sometimes be a handful, too.

Otherwise, point taken. Most queens are no angels, it seems.

I’m sure we’ll both enjoy the new box. Thanks much.

– Stick


Mister Stick, I really appreciate your comment. What a pleasure to read. I’m a casual Aretha fan until I saw that 2015 Kennedy Center performance. If that doesn’t move you, you are dead from the feet up.
Ps. Make sure those “younger women” have a CD player before you buy this :-)


This looks like a pretty good collection. I’m not completely familiar with her pre-80s work, but are there any tracks from the disco album included on this? I’ve always been curious to hear some of those, but they seem pretty difficult to find.


I believe Aretha herself blocked CD releases of her late 70s albums. I am not familiar with those albums but always wanted to hear them. There are some tracks included here which makes me want this set even more. Hopefully the actual albums will get a CD debut at some point.

A.W. de Boer

you can find this album and all the othet not on cd released albums on youtube under Aretha Franklin