In 1972, at the height of her popularity, Aretha Franklin chose to revisit gospel, the music of her youth. The resulting album, Amazing Grace, recorded with a live band and a choir over two days in the New Temple Missionary Baptist church in Los Angeles, was one of the singer’s biggest hits and remains the best-selling gospel album of all time. A documentary record of the session was filmed under the auspices of director Sydney Pollack, who had just released They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and Jeremiah Johnson. However, a recording glitch rendered his footage useless. Franklin’s recent death has permitted the revelatory film, digitally restored by Alan Elliott in 2007, to be released.
Eschewing the tropes of a documentary, Amazing Grace is a raw testament to a remarkable talent.
(Notes by David O’Mahony.)
Don’t forget we now schedule weekly.