New blues album from Etta James

Maggie Mortensen magmorten@WORLDNET.ATT.NET
Sun Jun 28 13:29:12 EDT 1998

Oh boy: a blues album arriving this week from Etta that includes
tunes by Wolf, Dixon and Watson.  Can't wait.

This review from the San Francisco Chronicle, 6/28/98




  Life, Love & the Blues Private Music, $16.98

  Throughout a prolific recording career that began in
  1955 when bandleader Johnny Otis plucked her
  out of the Fillmore District and turned her into a
  teenage R&B sensation, Etta James has included
  blues, rock, jazz, country and an occasional gospel
  selection in her repertoire. Since signing with the
  Private Music label four years ago, the alternately
  tough and tender vocal stylist has been better able
  to focus her bold eclecticism. After cutting two
  albums of jazz standards, including the
  Grammy-winning ``Mystery Lady: The Songs of
  Billie Holiday,'' James turned to country with last
  year's masterly Barry Beckett-produced ``Love's
  Been Rough on Me.'' ``Life, Love & the Blues,''
  due in stores Tuesday, is the singer's first all-blues
  album, though her definition of the genre is much
  broader than that of many blues purists. Besides the
  Willie Dixon-penned classics ``Hoochie Coochie
  Man'' (delivered here as ``Hoochie Coochie Gal'')
  and ``Spoonful'' (a Howlin' Wolf hit that James first
  recorded 38 years ago as a duet with Harvey
  Fuqua), she puts her throaty, melismatic stamp on
  such funky blues numbers as Johnny ``Guitar''
  Watson's ``I Want to Ta Ta You, Baby'' and Sly
  Stone's ``If You Want Me to Stay.'' As usual,
  James' heartfelt ballads are the most satisfying
  tracks, particular her deeply soulful rendition of the
  Bobby Bland hit ``I'll Take Care of You,'' written
  by Brook Benton. Of the dozen selections, only the
  title track, which James composed with sons Donto
  and Sametto and guitarist Josh Sklair, was not
  previously recorded by another artist. Her Roots
  Band, featuring Sklair

  and guitarist Bobby Murray, provides solid
  support, though the grooves supplied by drummer
  Donto and bassist Sametto lack the punch
  associated with the singer's work with Beckett.
  Still, James packs enough punch with her gutsy
  contralto to make up for any deficiencies.

  -- Lee Hildebrand

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