Another Boss Track missing in action. According to the Killing Floor data base, Springsteen performed this song once in his career, with South Side Johnny while guesting at one of his shows in 2001. I asked around and got confirmation that the show was taped, but the taper allegedly doesn't want to share this one. And here I was thinking that these not to be shared tapes were a myth, urban legend. Apparently I was wrong. I hope the taper will change his mind some day, I would love to hear South Side's and Springsteen's take on this gem by the Queen of Soul, miss Aretha Franklin. Aretha was a preacher's daughter. Baptist preacher and civil rights activist reverend C.L. Franklin raised Aretha and her sisters, Erma and Carolyn, in church, honing their singing skills in the Gospel choir. Though all three sisters would score recording contracts, Erma and Carolyn would never achieve quite the same status as Aretha did. The two would later often feature as background singers on Aretha's singles, "Chain Of Fools" is one of them.
Aretha was first discovered and signed on Columbia by John Hammond in 1960, the same who would sign Springsteen about a decade and change down the line. Aretha's Pop orientated outings on Columbia wouldn't prove all that successful and are largely ignored by fans these days. When Atlantic released her first single in 1967 her fortunes changed overnight. Aretha started a string of Gospel infused Soul hits that would eventually make her legendary. This particular single is taken from the aptly titled "Lady Soul" album. Her third, following her lack luster sophomore album. "Lady Soul" would firmly establish Franklin's reputation as a Soul singer and stands as one of the greatest Soul albums of all time. According to the liner notes of the excellent compilation "Theme Time Radio Hour", based on Bob Dylan's successful Sirius show, the track was originally written by Don Covay, a Soul legend in his own right. Covay had written the song as a Blues shouter about life on the chain gangs. Franklin's producer Jerry Wexler asked Covay to do a re-write, originally with Otis Redding in mind, and Don made it into the masochistic greasy Funk monster it is today. As with most of Aretha's classic hits, the Muscle Shoals rhythm section were the musicians of choice with one Joe South added on guitar. Dylan fans may know South for his work on the "Blond On Blond" album, but South did some solo recording in his days as well. Scoring his own hit with the Grammy-winning "Games People Play" in 1968. The opening lick to "Chain Of Fools" however, may be one of the most memorable of his career.
Chain Of Fools, Arteha Franklin