Rolling Stone (4/11/02, p.106) - Ranked #7 in Rolling Stone's "50 Coolest Records".
Rolling Stone (11/12/70, p.36) - "...The Queen has made a strong return to her gospel roots....Cut after cut is underlined by her rolling, gospel piano on solid fills and funky solos...sweet soul music..."
SPIRIT IN THE DARK represents Aretha Franklin at the height of her majestic vocal power. This is Southern, gospel-based R&B/soul circa 1969/70, featuring the cream of the genre's players: the Dixie Flyers, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, the under-rated Cornell Dupree, and the late guitar wizard Duane Allman (of the Allman Brothers.). The then-unbeatable production team of Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Arif Mardin (guys who were clearly concerned with the music, not just the way the balance sheet looked) manned the controls to achieve a clean, undeniably powerful sound.
The material is a nice mix of pop ("Oh No Not My Baby"), blues ("The Thrill is Gone"), and mid-tempo soul tunes that balance strut with hurt ("Don't Play That Song"). At the center of each of these tracks, of course, are the Queen of Soul's powerhouse pipes. Here Franklin sings with passion tinged with vulnerability, and an authority that few contemporary singers--even decades after Franklin's heyday--can match. Though not as widely touted as I NEVER LOVED A MAN THE WAY I LOVE YOU or ARETHA NOW, SPIRIT IN THE DARK is among the most consistent and dynamic records of the singer's Atlantic tenure.