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10 legendary tracks that sample, remix or edit Aretha Franklin

Celebrating the legendary soul singer

  • Joe Muggs
  • 17 August 2018

Aretha Franklin has died at the age of 76.

The dance music community and the wider music world is mourning the loss of the undisputed Queen of Soul, who navigated a turbulent upbringing to become one of the greatest ever singers.

Her voice is intertwined with dance music and has lit up dancefloors for decades. Here are 10 legendary tracks that sample, remix or edit Aretha, including a couple of her own songs where she rides a distinctly disco beat.

Aretha Franklin 'Rock Steady' (Danny Krivit Re-Edit)

For a long time after this came out in 2002 – like yearsafter – you couldn't go to a festival without hearing this. And we strongly suspect that this is now going to be the case again. Now, Danny Krivit can't claim all – or even most – of the credit here: this is essentially a re-arrangement of Sure Is Pure's 1994 official remix of Aretha's 1971 groover, with Krivit bringing bits of vocal up to the front to give it the unmistakeable intro that DJs love, and adding some dubwise flourishes, before letting Sure Is Pure's funky, chunky, Balearic groove – and of course the full glory of Aretha's voice – loose. Far from being a case of too many chefs, each participant's additions just add to the joyousness here, and it still does the business every time.

Mos Def 'Ms. Fat Booty'

Aretha has been sampled heavily in hip hop but generally it's her grooves and piano playing that get tapped: few have had the guts to let her voice be the focus. But sampling 'One Step Ahead' – a 1965 song from before Aretha's globe-conquering success – producer Ayatollah came up with one of the all-time good-times hip hop funk grooves, and one of the tracks that cemented Mos Def (now Yasin Bey)'s reputation. The same vocal refrain, incidentally, is covered for High Contrast's summer d'n'b hit 'Remind Me' - presumably taking its cue from 'Ms. Fat Booty'.

Aretha Franklin 'A Deeper Love' (C+C Music Factory Mix)

The C+C Music Factory original was already one of the all time greats of the first wave of full-tilt diva house. Given the ultimate compliment of a cover by the Queen of Soul, C+C did the decent thing and remixed her version into an even bigger, more spine-tingling, more crowd-rocking 12 minutes of total dancefloor glory. The acapella was repurposed this year for Tinush's 'Struggle' which has generated tens of millions of streams, but for all that that is a slickly impressive bit of deep house, it's worth going back to the source for pure hands-in-the-air greatness.

Floorplan 'Never Grow Old' (Re-Plant)

If you're reading Mixmag and you don't know this one, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? On easily one of the biggest underground house records of the 2010s, Detroit techno legend Robert Hood works with all the audacity it takes to cut up and manipulate Aretha's voice, but also the devout sense of the spirit behind her gospel original, resulting in that rare thing - a ubiquitous tune that it's hard to get sick of.

Aretha Franklin 'Jump to It' (Extended Version)

1982 boogie perfection, produced and co-written by the mighty Luther Vandross. We can't really put it any better than the YouTube commenter summing it up thus: “Marcus Miller bassline, Nat Adderley Jr. on piano with Luther all up in it and Aretha on Top! An endless groove!!! "

Gershon Jackson 'Take It Easy' (Mike Dunn's BlackBall Ezee MixX)

Sampling the addictive groove from 'Chain of Fools', the other mixes of this relatively recent Strictly Rhythm joint err on the side of Big Room predictability. But you can rely on house OG Mike “Freaky MF” Dunn not to mess around unnecessarily, and here he brings all that Chicago simplicity to bear on the loop, plus a walloping great bassline to boot.

Aretha Franklin 'I Say A Little Prayer' (Dimitri From Paris Re-edit)

There's plenty of songs from Aretha's breakthrough late 60s era that serve perfectly well as end-of-night songs without embellishment, and the un-edited 'I Say a Little Prayer' has certainly soundtracked some scenes in its own right. But if there's one man who you can trust to handle a classic with just the right amount of club soundsystem spit and polish without destroying its essence is the Frenchman Dimitri, and he does the business here without question.

Electric Choc 'Shock the Beat'

This is is quite simply one of the greatest rave tunes of all time - the Italian piano banger to end all Italian piano bangers, from the era when tracks like this would send tens of thousands of ravemonkeys in Blackburn, Macclesfield and Manchester absolutely delirious all weekend long every single weekend. It delivers double dynamite: first when that piano riff kicks in, and then when Aretha's wordless ad libs - sampled from her 1985 pop hit 'Who's Zoomin' Who' - arrive and take it up... and up.... and up. For all that this style of tune could be derided as cheesy, in the heat of the dancefloor it's a full-on spiritual experience.

Cam'ron feat Tiffany 'Day Dreaming'

Every gangsta needs a break from bullets and boasting occasionally, and what better way than to slip on a laid back Aretha classic and go into lover man mode? On this, Killa Cam audibly unwinds, over large sections of the Aretha track of the same name, making for a classic of the sensitive thug subgenre, and a summer barbecue jam that still stands up today.

Aretha Franklin - Almighty Fire (Woman Of The Future)

Unlike many other soul stars of her generation, Aretha didn't really ride the disco wave. Her 1978 Almighty Fire album was as close as she got, and sadly underperformed commercially, which is a shame as much it was laden with funk as on the title track. We can but dream of what Chic collaborations or other disco diva wonders would have come if she'd have connected to the scene, but in their absence we still have this.

Joe Muggs is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to Mixmag. Follow him on Twitter here

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