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The Essential Etta James

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Album Review

The Essential Etta James comprises 44 tracks summarizing the long and brilliant Chess tenure of "Miss Peaches," Etta James, opening with her 1960 smash "All I Could Do Was Cry," and encompassing her torchy, fully orchestrated ballads "At Last," "My Dearest Darling," and "Trust in Me," and continuing on through her 1962 gospel-rocker "Something's Got a Hold on Me," the Chicago soul standouts "I Prefer You" and "842-3089," and her 1967 Muscle Shoals-cut smash "Tell Mama." A few of the '70s sides that conclude the two-disc set seem like filler when compared to what preceded them, but most of the essentials are aboard.

Customer Reviews

Disc One: GREAT! Disc Two: Not So Much.

This 2 CD set is in chronological order. Disc One is chock-full of ALMOST all of Etta's classics, "The Wallflower/Dance With Me Henry" being the only major exclusion. Disc Two is everything after 1964 and the CD compilers seem to be embarrassed by her singles during this period. On Disc Two, they only give you 12 of her hits and a whopping 10 filler cuts, while leaving out SEVEN of her later hits. Otherwise, an excellent collection.

Queen of the Blues

Just listening the Etta on a rainy day can make it sunny. So many great songs on two CD's. Mostly her early stuff, fresh and young. One CD I enjoy. Of course "At Last" is my number one, but also there is "All I can do is cry" Tell Mama" "Loving more every day" ....... I can't think of a song I would miss on this set. Enjoy.

She Lives

There are those artists for whom the recording studio exists merely to function as a means if codifying a performance that is real, raw and unvarnished. And there are those that don't really exist outside of it's doors, such is the level of artificial enhancement needed to produce their manufactured "product". Etta James was the former...listening to her through a speaker of any kind is to be literally transported into her presence and she continues to live. This album frequently brings me close to tears as it makes her unique gifts so available without artifice or pretense. There are but a few performers who are in her class...Ray Charles is one who comes to mind. This is the definitive James collection. The pain, joy and sadness were raw, real and have not left us. Etta James LIVES!


Born: January 25, 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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