Etta James – Rocks The House (1963)

FrontCover1Jamesetta 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.

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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”.

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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)

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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).

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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)

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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.)

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Personnel:
Freeman Brown (drums)
Gavrell Cooper (saxophone)
Vonzell Cooper (organ)
Etta James (vocals)
David T. Walker (guitar)
Richard Waters (drums)
Marion Wright (bass)

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Tracklist:
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
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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

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Etta James – Tell Mama (1968)

FrontCover1.jpgIn 1967, a pregnant Etta James traveled to rural Alabama to work with the world-class musicians of Muscle Shoals Studios. Country fiddler Rick Hall, who ran the studio, had the perfect song for James, ‘Tell Mama.’ James made four trips to Muscle Shoals in 1967 and 1968 to work with Hall’s creative touches. Hall’s subtle nuances gave Leonard Chess a magnificent record from start to finish. The album features a high-octane version of the title cut, which may be James’ most recognizable song after ‘At Last.’ Also on the album are the gorgeous Soul ballad ‘I’d Rather Go Blind,’ Rosco Gordon’s ‘Just A Little Bit,’ Otis Redding’s ‘Security, and two Don Covay songs, ‘Watch Dog’ and ‘I’m Gonna Take What He’s Got.’ The combination of James’ vocal convictions and Hall’s Muscle Shoals musicians makes this record, released on Chess’s subsidiary label, Cadet, one for the ages. (blues.org)

Leonard Chess dispatched Etta James to Muscle Shoals in 1967, and the move paid off with one of her best and most soul-searing Cadet albums. Produced by Rick Hall, the resultant album boasted a relentlessly driving title cut, the moving soul ballad “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and sizzling covers of Otis Redding’s “Security” and Jimmy Hughes’ “Don’t Lose Your Good Thing,” and a pair of fine Don Covay copyrights. The skin-tight session aces at Fame Studios really did themselves proud behind Miss Peaches. (by Bill Dahl)

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Personnel:
Carl Banks (organ)
Barry Beckett (organ)
Charles Chalmers (saxophone)
George Davis (piano)
Roger Hawkins (drums)
David Hood (bass)
Etta James (vocals)
Jimmy Ray Johnson (guitar)
Albert Lowe, Jr., (guitar)
Gene Miller (trumpet)
James Mitchell (saxophone)
Floyd Newman (saxophone)
Dewey L. Oldham (keyboards)
Marvell Thomas (piano)
Aaron Varnell (saxophone)

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Tracklist:
01. Tell Mama (Carter) 2.24
02. I’d Rather Go Blind (Foster/Jordan) 2.37
03. Watch Dog (Covay) 2.08
04. The Love Of My Man (Townsend) 2.43
05. I’m Gonna Take What He’s Got (Covay) 2.35
06. The Same Rope (Caston/Webber) 2.42
07. Security (Redding) 2.31
08. Steal Away (Hughes) 2.23
09. My Mother-In-Law (David/Diamond) 2.24
10. Don’t Lose Your Good Thing (Killen/Oldham/Hall) 2.28
11. It Hurts Me So Much (Chalmers) 2.37
12. Just A Little Bit (Gordon) 2.08

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Charts

Etta James – 12 Songs Of Christmas (1998)

CDFrontCover112 Songs of Christmas is a holiday album by American singer Etta James, released in October 1998 through the record label Private Music. The album, produced by John Snyder, features standards arranged mostly by pianist Cedar Walton and solos by Walton, George Bohanon on trombone and Red Holloway on tenor saxophone. Critical reception of the album was positive overall. Following its release, 12 Songs reached a peak position of number five on Billboard’s Top Blues Albums chart.

12 Songs of Christmas consists of twelve standard holiday songs with arrangements mostly by pianist Cedar Walton and solos by Walton, George Bohanon on trombone and Red Holloway on tenor saxophone. The album combines James’ blues style with a jazz sound. 12 Songs, recorded during May and June 1998, was produced by John Snyder with Lupe DeLeon serving as executive producer.

The album opens with “Winter Wonderland”, originally by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith, followed by James Pierpont’s “Jingle Bells”. A “bluesy” rendition of Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore’s “Merry Christmas, Baby” trails “This Time of Year” (Hollis, Owens).[5] Other holiday standards appearing on the album include: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin), John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie’s “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”, and “White Christmas”, originally by Irving Berlin. “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”, originally by Mel Tormé and Robert Wells, “The Little Drummer Boy (Carol of the Drum)” (Katherine Kennicott Davis, Henry Onorati, Harry Simeone), Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr’s “Silent Night”, and “Joy to the World” (George Frideric Handel, Lowell Mason, Isaac Watts) follow. The album closes with a rendition of Adolphe Adam and John Sullivan Dwight’s “O Holy Night”.

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Critical reception of the album was positive overall. Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote a positive review of the album, claiming that James turned standards into “suave after-hours jazz arrangements” that seemed “cozy and intimate”. He wrote that James was “surprisingly reverent” and sounded “downright devout” on “Joy to the World”.[3] Entertainment Weekly’s Matt Diehl felt that James’ performances brought both “sass and class” and “ooze[d] passionately with old-school soul”. David Hinckley of New York City’s Daily News awarded 12 Songs “two-and-a-half bells” out of four. Rolling Stone called 12 Songs a “tour de force of interpretive rethinking” with “scintillating, bluesy spins on Yuletide evergreens”. The Spartanburg Herald-Journal’s Dan DeLuca also complimented the set.

The album received some negative criticism. Larry Nager of The Cincinnati Enquirer awarded the album two out of four stars and wrote that James had the ability to make “the ultimate blue Christmas disc” but failed to do so. Nager complimented “Merry Christmas, Baby” but considered the performance to be a “rare bit of juke joint” among “supper club sounds” that left him “wanting more”. (by wikipedia)

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Personnel:
George Bohanon (trombone)
Ronnie Buttacavoli (flugelhorn, trumpet)
John Clayton (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)
Red Holloway (saxophone)
Etta James (vocals)
Sametto James (bass)
Josh Sklair (guitar)
John Snyder – producer
Cedar Walton (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Winter Wonderland (Bernard/Smith) 4.27
02. Jingle Bells (Pierpont) 5.25
03. This Time Of Year (Hollis/Owens) 5.48
04. Merry Christmas, Baby (Baxter/Moore) 6.10
05. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Blane/Martin) 4.45
06. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Coots/Gillespie) 6.22
07. White Christmas (Berlin) 5.53
08. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) (Tormé/Wells) 4.24
09. The Little Drummer Boy (Carol Of The Drum) (Davis/Onorati/Simeone) 5.00
10. Silent Night (Gruber/Mohr) 4.50
11. Joy To The World (Händel/Mason/Watts) 5.31
12. O Holy Night (Adam/Dwight) 4.51

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Etta James – Stickin´ To My Guns (1990)

frontcover1Stickin’ to My Guns is the eighteenth studio album by Etta James, released in 1990.

Etta James is a little further along in her effort to come up with a more contemporary sound. Stickin’ to My Guns pays homage to James’s roots in that the lyrics are highly personal and blues oriented, but the accompaniment is completely contemporary. We’re talking about a nonstop dance party filled with house rockers like “Love to Burn” and turn-the-lights-down-low, slow-grind numbers like “Your Good Thing (Is About to End).” But to say that this album is blues, in the traditional sense of the word, is a bit of a stretch. If you’re looking for the Etta James of the Chess years, you’re bound to be disappointed. But if you check your preconceived notions at the door, you’re gonna have a good time. (by Bob J. Cohen)

Comtenporary-styled R&B effort that stays true to her roots. (by Bill Dahl)

All in all: it´s a very good album by one of the most greatest female blues singers ! And this album include a very fine version of “A Fool In Love ” one of the greatest Frankie Miller songs !

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Personnel:
Barry Beckett (keyboards)
Gary Burnette (guitar)
Thomas Cain (background vocals)
Carol Chase (background vocals)
Ashley Cleveland (background vocals)
Def Jef (background vocals)
Qiutman Dennis (trombone)
Brother Gene Dinwiddle (saxophone)
Greg Donerson (percussion)
Dobie Gray (background vocals)
Jack Hale (trombone)
Roger Hawkins (drums)
Mike Haynes (trumpet)
Mabon “Teenie” Hodges (guitar)
Jim Horn (saxophone)
Etta James (vocals)
Mike Lawler (synthesizer)
Carl Marsh (programming, synthesizer)
Arik Marshall (guitar)
John Dewey McKnight (trombone)
Jonell Mosser (background vocals)
Leo Nocentelli (guitar)
David Patterson (saxophone)
Jim Pugh (keyboards)
Fernando Pullum (trumpet)
Danny Rhodes (guitar)
Michael Rhodes (bass)
Josh Sklair (guitar)
Bobby Vega (bass)
Jimmie Wood (harmonica)
Reggie Young (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Whatever Gets You Through The Night (Whitsett/Penn/Lindsey) 3.48
02. Love To Burn (Reneau/Gra/Rector) 3.29
03. The Blues Don’t Care (James) 3.41
04. Your Good Thing (Is About To End) (Hayes)Porter 3.52
05. Get Funky (Rhodes) 4.45
06. Beware (Randle) 3.39
07. Out Of The Rain (White) 4.33
08. Stolen Affection (Hurt/Barnett) 3.52
09. A Fool In Love (Fraser/Miller) 3.24
10. I’ve Got Dreams To Remember (Rock/O.Redding/Z.Redding) 4.28

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