Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin hasn’t released a single within spitting distance of her own standards since “A Rose Is Still a Rose” in 1998 or a better-than-average pop album since Who’s Zoomin’ Who? in 1985. Last year’s So Damn Happy found Lady Soul in good voice, with decent material, but drowning in church-free arrangements and back-up singers. Ugh. Submerging Aretha under synth sheets — and other voices — wastes an artist still capable of masterpieces. That’s like trying to jazz up The Andy Griffith Show with special effects. Ideally, this show would find Franklin fronting not much more than a rhythm section — one in which she’s the piano player. This particular date is doubly unexpected; Franklin rarely plays live anymore, and what the hell is Crossroads Amphitheatre, anyway? But to see and hear one of America’s greatest singers — maybe the greatest — perform “Respect,” “Rock Steady,” “Ain’t No Way” and the rest would be worth a trip to Budapest. All you have to do is ride the “Freeway of Love” to Marshall.

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