When this record was made in 1971, the Queen of Soul was riding the crest of the wave that catapulted her to international fame in the late 1960s. Soul singers take things to a different level live than in the recording studio, and it seems that producers Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin wanted to make sure to get the most out of this occasion (perhaps owing to general disappointment with the 1968 release, Aretha in Paris). For the four-day Fillmore gig, Aretha was backed not by her usual band, but by King Curtis and the Kingpins (which included such luminaries as Billy Preston on organ and Cornell Dupree on guitar), the Memphis Horns, and the Sweethearts of Soul on backup vocals. Getting all of these elements to come together must have been quite a challenge, but come together they certainly did. One can feel how excited these musicians were to be participating in this event, and Aretha soars above the collective energy with some of her more remarkable performances on record, capped by her own song, “Spirit in the Dark,” with Ray Charles sitting in. Spine-tingles guaranteed! Recording quality is quite good, though the balance isn’t perfect.