1967 – Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
The obvious choice for 1967 would have been Barbra Streisand‘s A Christmas Album, a 5xPlatinum LP in the US. Its sales have been massively weighted towards the original album as no compilation of its songs ever came out. Aretha Franklin‘s I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You is nowhere near as big by itself, but it created far more value in the long run thanks to its cult single Respect.
Her album was a success upon release. It peaked at #2, shipping half a million units in its first 3 months. The title track went to #9, selling upwards of 1 million, a feat also easily achieved by Respect, a #1 single. An out-of-the-blue smash the song was milked to death from day one. In 1968 the live set Aretha In Paris was a Top 20 album while in 1969 it was the compilation Aretha’s Gold. Both albums were obviously fueled by Respect. Live at Fillmore West went to #7 in 1971 while Aretha’s Greatest Hits peaked at #19 the same year.
Franklin has no multi-platinum best of. This was because they were constantly replaced by new sets with similar track lists. During the 90s the diva was shifting half a million compilations per year in the US alone and at least as many elsewhere. Songs from I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You are responsible for roughly 40% of the appeal of those compilations, powered by the 132 million streams of Respect. This represents anything from 10 to 20 million equivalent album sales, enough to crack Streisand‘s Christmas album.