Rolling Stone (3/16/72, p.58) - "...an extremely personal, beautiful record...controlled throughout by one sensibility, Miss Franklin's..."
Spin (p.122) - "Franklin dug into her culture, stepping out in satiny arrangements..."
Recorded over a seven-month period in 1970 and 1971, YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK captures Aretha Franklin at the peak of her artistic and commercial powers. A stirring, rock-solid release that holds its own with the singer's better-known albums, it also includes some eclectic song choices. Nestled against original, uptempo groovers like "Rock Steady," for example, is a soulful reading of the Beatles' "The Long and Winding Road." (Beatles sideman Billy Preston's signature organ playing is featured throughout the recording.)
Upon its release in January 1972, the album yielded four Top Ten singles on the R&B charts and two Top Ten singles on the pop charts. Franklin baffled some fans at the time by covering "Border Song (Holy Moses)," but the song, composed by a then-obscure team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, landed at #5 on the R&B charts. Franklin's stirring cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," recorded during the same sessions but omitted from the initial release, appears on the reissue. Overall, YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK is one of the brightest releases in what would prove to be Franklin's most fertile, diverse, and productive period.