The Chess Box
hepsters, this one's a no-brainer. If you don't have this CD set
from MCA/CHESS, buy it. If you love rhythm & blues or early
rock-and-roll, buy it. If you're a dedicated listener of blues,
jazz, vocal and/or gospel, buy it. Hell, if you have any appreciation
of music, buy it. But it not just because it's a bargain with
72 cuts, including several unreleased tracks (among them a version
of "Light My Fire" that completely redeems a song I
thought I would never want to hear again)...buy it because it's
Etta James, man!
you don't know the work of Etta James, then this is a perfect
(albeit pricey) place to start. Not only will you get the full
breadth of Etta's musical prowess, but the liner notes are more
instructive than any synopsis I could offer in this short space.
Suffice to say, Etta James is one of the premier R&B vocalists
of the '50s, '60s and '70s, perhaps one who is too easily overlooked.
She has expression, range and versatility. She's Etta James, man!
Collection is an overview of Etta's Chess Records recording career,
which spanned 1960 to 1976. There's no doubt that Etta made great
records before and after her contract with Chess, but these were
fertile years. Even the most uninspired trackwhich are few
and far betweenis graced by Etta's glorious voice. The songs
range from the sweet orchestrations of "Never My Love"
to the grinding R&B of "You Got Me Where you Want Me."
In the later years Etta adopted a Marvin Gaye-style soul, yet
never lost the power of her blues. And there are plenty of those
smoldering uptown blues ballads at which she excels, songs that
cause the listener to melt just hearing them. The live version
of "At Last," perhaps the most recognized of any of
her hits, is worth the price. Whatever your reason for buying
the set, it's a purchase you won't regret.