Picks and Pans Review: A Rose Is Still a Rose

updated 03/16/1998 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/16/1998 01:00AM

Aretha Franklin

When word spreads that the Queen of Soul is coming out with an album of R&B tunes, Mariah, Whitney and the rest should take it as a cue to run and hide. Here comes 'Ree to show the youngsters how it's doneā€”not just with flashy vocal technique but by plumbing the depths of feeling. With 15 Grammy Awards on the shelf and 20 No. 1 R&B singles, Aretha, of course, has been here before. Unfortunately, the best on this CD (the title track, written by Lauryn Hill of the Fugees) does not stand out in an unvaried landscape of sound-alike ballads. Even so, to hear Queen Aretha purr ("Oh, baby") and sass ("and that's a fact!") is worth a dozen ear-boggling vocal flips by lesser royals. (Arista)

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