Sister Soul: The Best of the RCA Years 1969-1976

Sister Soul: The Best of the RCA Years 1969-1976

by Carolyn FranklinCarolyn Franklin


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Like Erma Franklin, Carolyn Franklin was bound to be overshadowed by her sister Aretha Franklin, although she was a respectable soul singer (and songwriter) in her own right. While she wasn't well known to the public (even less so than Erma was), she did record fairly often for RCA, with the 22 songs on Sister Soul: The Best of the RCA Years 1969-1976 being drawn from the four albums and seven singles she cut for the label. Frankly, Carolyn's output was the least distinguished of the three sisters; Erma wasn't a major artist either, but did come up with at least one recognized classic, "Piece of My Heart," as well as some other solid soul records. Carolyn's voice and material are strong, but not overwhelmingly distinctive. Heard on its own terms rather than in comparison to her bloodlines, however, this is decent, versatile slightly above-average late-'60s/early-'70s soul. Yet it seems to be constantly falling a bit short of finding songs, or a personality, that would make it special rather than satisfactory. Her voice sure can soar with upper-register ebullience at times (check out the end of "Ain't That Groovy" for a flash of that), though on material that -- like Aretha's -- could run the gamut from near-gospel to surprisingly slick near-pop. Her sole, modest R&B hit, "It's True I'm Gonna Miss You," is here, as are a few cuts that almost (but don't quite) manage some unusual arresting hooks, like "On a Back Street," "You Really Didn't Mean It," and a venture into Temptations-style psychedelic-influenced soul, "Chain Reaction." Incidentally, although Carolyn's known for having written some songs for Aretha, she only wrote about a third or so of the material here; her self-penned efforts were neither more or less successful than those of the other songwriters whose work she covered at getting something out of her vocal talents.

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