Jamesetta Hawkins (January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012), known professionally as Etta James, was an American singer who performed in various genres, including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz, and gospel. Starting her career in 1954, she gained fame with hits such as “The Wallflower”, “At Last”, “Tell Mama”, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”, and “I’d Rather Go Blind”. She faced a number of personal problems, including heroin addiction, severe physical abuse, and incarceration, before making a musical comeback in the late 1980s with the album Seven Year Itch.
James’s deep and earthy voice bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll. She won six Grammy Awards and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001. Rolling Stone magazine ranked James number 22 on its list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time; she was also ranked number 62 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Billboard’s 2015 list of The 35 Greatest R&B Artists Of All Time includes James, whose “gutsy, take-no-prisoner vocals colorfully interpreted everything from blues and R&B/soul to rock n’roll, jazz and gospel”.
Etta James Rocks the House is the first live album by the American singer Etta James. It was recorded live on the nights of September 27 and 28, 1963, at the New Era Club in Nashville, Tennessee, and was released on December 13, 1963.
Hot with the releases of At Last! and The Second Time Around, Etta James Rocks the House became the artist’s first recorded live album under Argo Records. The concept was to catch James in a raw and fiery performance outside the recording studio. The album is among her finest live recordings. (wikipedia)
Though the studio albums Etta James made for Chess in the 1960s usually had the blues singer surrounded by lush production and string-heavy arrangements, this live date finds her performing with only a rhythm section, organist, guitarist, and tenor saxophonist. The singer seems to respond to both the stripped-down setting and the enthusiastic audience with noticeable abandon. In fact, James the classy balladeer, a role she sometimes plays on her studio albums, is nowhere to be found on this blazing set. The only time the band slows down is on the tearjerker story-song “All I Could Do Is Cry” (though what the tune lacks in tempo it makes up for in emotional intensity).
The rest of the set is straight-edged blues and R&B, including covers of some hits of the day, like “Money (That’s What I Want)” and Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say.” Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me to Do” (on which James does a growling, harmonica-imitating vocal solo) steps up the blues quotient, as does the band’s finale of Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” with James’ gospel-drenched pipes wailing all the while. Etta James Rocks the House indeed. (by Rovi Staff)
One of the most appropriately titled live albums of all time. Etta James’s Rocks the House ranks up there with James Brown’s Live at the Apollo, 1962 and Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 as being one of 60’s soul music’s greatest ever live documents. These are albums that still kick with vitality and fun, gritty, danceable music decades after being recorded and Rocks the House is among them. Throughout this album, Etta shows us a different side of her that we don’t usually hear on her studio recordings, one of wild, gritty, energetic soul blues/blues soul (not unlike the Sam Cooke on Live at the Harlem Square Club, but with a much bluesier sound) by ripping through a series of frenetic, wild numbers like her revved up version of her hit Something’s Gotta Hold on Me and her covers of Ray Charles What’d I Say, Barrett Strong’s Money (That’s What I Want), and B.B. King’s Woke up this Morning among others. One has to wonder why this album isn’t on more “essential” and “must hear before you die” albums lists. (by R.S.)
Freeman Brown (drums)
Gavrell Cooper (saxophone)
Vonzell Cooper (organ)
Etta James (vocals)
David T. Walker (guitar)
Richard Waters (drums)
Marion Wright (bass)
01. Introduction/Something’s Got A Hold On Me (James/Kirkland/Woods) 5.03
02. Baby What You Want Me To Do (Reed) 4.14
03. What’d I Say (Charles) 3.15
04. Money (That’s What I Want) (Bradford/Gordy, Jr.) 3.22
05. Seven Day Fool (Davis/Gordy, Jr./Woods) 4.20
06. Sweet Little Angel (McCollum) 4.15
07. Ooh Poo Pah Doo (Hill) 4.05
08. Woke Up This Morning (King) 3.38
09. Ain’t That Loving You Baby (Reed) 2.52
10. All I Could Do Was Cry (Davis/Fuqua/Gordy, Jr.) 3.21
11. I Just Want To Make Love To You (Dixon) 3.40