Monday, January 27, 2014

Etta James The Right Time 1992

Etta James had a tough go of things both personal and professional. She made some great singles in the sixties, and continued to record fairly steadily through most of the seventies, albeit with little chart success. During those two decades, she recorded for no less than six different labels.

In 1992, after ten years without a release, Jerry Wexler produced this come-back gem. Wexler collected an all-star band (Steve Cropper, Steve Ferrone, David Hood, Roger Hawkins, Jim Horn, Willie Weeks, and many more), took Etta to Muscle Shoals for two weeks, and got more than a few blazing hot performances from everyone involved. Top-notch songs, all carefully chosen to bring out the forceful voice of the inimitable Etta James.

Kicking off with I Sing The Blues, the record gets hot in a hurry with a stomping blues boast. Al Green's Love And Happiness follows, and Etta sings it with deep soul, while Lucky Peterson rips a cookin' guitar solo. Evening Of Love is a slow burner, sexy come on, and You're Taking Up Another Man's Place begs the man to put up or get out. Wilson Pickett's Ninety-Nine And A Half Won't Do gets a driving, funky treatment, and Etta burns it to the ground. Down-Home Blues is a stomper, Etta bringing it again.

Not everything is perfect (it's a high bar), but a few songs get the blame, not Etta. She is in good, healthy voice for this one, and the production is excellent. There's more emphasis on the blues than on the rhythm side of things, and those low-down dirties suit James' big brash voice just fine. A consistently strong CD.

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