Grooves & Samples #2: Aretha Franklin – It Ain’t Fair (1970)
Grooves & Samples is a weekly dive into old dusty crates of jazz, funk, soul and beyond.
The second selection in our new Sunday search for the perfect groove comes from the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and also features one of the best guitarists of all time, Duane Allman. “It Ain’t Fair” appeared on the 1970 LP titled This Girl’s In Love With You.
This track was chosen this week primarily to showcase the brilliance of the slide guitar genius Duane Allman. For most people Duane is known as the late co-founder of bluesy rock outfit The Allman Brothers Band with his brother Gregg. Though Duane died in 1971, the group has continued to record and perform music from his passing to the present day, cementing their place at the forefront of the jam band scene along with the likes of the Grateful Dead, Phish, Derek Trucks Band and others.
Duane’s early recordings caught the ear of an Alabama based studio head, and he was subsequently brought in to record with Wilson Pickett. Wilson’s 1968 cover of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” featured an incredible lead guitar performance from Duane and led to Atlantic Records executive Jerry Wexler snapping up Duane to play as a session guitarist with Atlantic artists including Aretha, King Curtis, Herbie Mann and many others. Aretha Franklin happened to be working with Atlantic at this time and thus, Duane ended up recording quite a few songs with the Queen of Soul.
“It Ain’t Fair” is a slow grooving soulful number lightly dipped in blues by Allman’s tasteful guitar licks. Duane Allman sadly died almost 2 years after this song was released at the far too young age of 24. It is more than worth it to look into any recordings left behind by this guitar virtuoso, particularly his session recordings that blended his blues roots with soul and jazz.
Producer Ant briefly sampled “It Ain’t Fair” for the outro of Atmosphere‘s “Caved In”, back in 1997 when Atmosphere was still a 3-man crew. The other sample throughout this hip hop track is “Moonstreams” by soul-jazz saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr.