* * * 1/2 ARETHA FRANKLIN. "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism." Arista.
"This is not a 'program,' this is a worship service," intones the Rev. Jesse Jackson, interrupting the music for some speechifying on Aretha Franklin's new live double album. In so many words, then, we're not to take Franklin's first gospel effort in 15 years as a mere entertainment --this is church .
And "One Lord" has plenty of documentary aspects that, for some listeners, may belabor the point: The set was recorded at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where Franklin's father is pastor. And generously interspersed amid all Aretha and friends' singing are plenty of speeches, introductions and invocations, commemorating the Queen of Soul's return to her family and roots as well as presumably higher spiritual purposes.
Brace yourself for no fewer than three vinyl appearances by Rev. Jackson, one of them a ten-minute speech. Fading out nearly every song (sometimes just as they're really building up steam) in favor of so much talk is puzzling, yet Jackson's inclusion is justifiable in the most aesthetic sense--like the other preachers on the album, his phlegmatic oration has a truly musical/rhythmic base; he may not be a gospel singer, but he's sure our first gospel presidential candidate.