Aretha Franklin collection set for release

Columbia Legacy to release 12-disc survey on March 22

Aretha Franklin will receive a massive tribute on March 22, when Columbia Legacy releases the 12-disc set “Take a Look: Aretha Franklin Complete On Columbia.”

Produced by Leo Sacks, the box will comprehensively survey Franklin’s 1960-65 stint at the major label, where she was signed by legendary A&R man and producer John Hammond. All the singer’s master takes will be compiled; the collection will also gather bonus tracks, mono mixes, alternate takes and studio chatter.

In addition to 11 CDs – comprising seven original albums, two discs of non-LP material and two new compilations — the set will include a five-song DVD featuring 1964 performances from “The Steve Allen Show.” A 60-page booklet will include photos by Don Hunstein, who documented many of Columbia’s ’60s sessions; recollections by Hammond, drawn from his 1977 autiobiography “On Record”; and an essay by Princeton University professor Daphne A. Brooks.

Franklin’s Columbia sessions predate her hit-making tenure at Atlantic in the late ’60s. The sides on “Take a Look” include material recorded with jazz pianist Ray Bryant’s trio (her Hammond-produced 1961 debut “Aretha”) and collaborations with producers Bobby Scott, Clyde Otis and Bob Johnston (best known for his work with Bob Dylan).

On March 22, Columbia Legacy will also issue a single CD set, “Aretha Franklin: The Great American Songbook,” devoted to her Columbia recordings of standards.

The homage is timely: In December, shortly after she cancelled several months of concert gigs, 68-year-old Franklin underwent surgery for a still-undisclosed illness.

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