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 done—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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