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Etta James: Her Best

Etta James

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Album Review

While several best-ofs from Etta James' Chess period have been available over the years — with the two-disc, 44-track Essential Etta James at the top of the list in giving the big picture — this 20-track collection sweats that bigger picture down to bare essentials. For those wishing to finally sample Etta's classic period at Chess without opening the wallet for box set expense, this single-disc retrospective will fill the bill quite nicely. Featuring 20 of the tracks that appear on the double-disc Essential anthology without anything literally essential left off, this scintillating little disc now officially becomes the one-stop, first-time purchase in connecting with the emotional greatness inherent in Etta's siren song. There's plenty more after this to discover, but this is absolutely where you start.

Biography

Born: 25 January 1938 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Few female R&B stars enjoyed the kind of consistent acclaim Etta James received throughout a career that spanned six decades; the celebrated producer Jerry Wexler once called her "the greatest of all modern blues singers," and she recorded a number of enduring hits, including "At Last," "Tell Mama," "I'd Rather Go Blind," and "All I Could Do Was Cry." At the same time, despite possessing one of the most powerful voices in music, James only belatedly gained the attention of the mainstream audience,...
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