Rock Steady

  • Artist: Aretha Franklin
  • Album: Young, Gifted and Black
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Year: 1971
  • Producer: Tom Dowd, Arif Mardin, Jerry Wexler
  • Engineer: Tom Dowd, Gene Paul
  • Studio: Criteria, Miami, FL; Atlantic, New York


Aretha's vocal gets a rather surprising special effect in this recording, in the form of a regenerating echo. Those Aaahs/Ooohs get a bit of ear grabbing spin, adding motion and support and interest to her long sustained single syllables. Such an effect risks being distracting and out of character if it appears during the actual lyrics, but adds to the crescendo of her wordless expressions.

Aretha gets the echo effect above while the background vocals echoing her words in fact get extra reverb. FX irony? No, but FX contrast like this is a frequent mix move. Aretha's tone is fuller, and her reverb treatment drier than the background vocals to make the mix elements clear: Aretha rules the mix. The background vocals play a supporting role, and are sonically tucked back and to the right in the mix.


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