Etta James

Steve Hoffman steve@GOODNOTE.COM
Thu Feb 1 09:12:18 EST 2001

Hey, let's get a little perspective here.
Etta James is NOT and never has been primarily a blues singer.

Look at her career, going back over the decades. She has sung some blues and
sung it real well!. But that is only a part of what she does.

She has  rocked out with some great R&B -- blues-based but with more of a
novelty feel, like Roll Me with Henry. She has recorded a lot of ballads: from
Sunday Kind of Love to -- the song that believe it or not 100 years from now
she'll be most remembered for, At Last. Some of her greatest work is pure
Southern FUNK, such as Tell Mama. Everytime I've seen her in concert, she's done
a killer version of Hank Williams' Your Cheatin' Heart. Songs like Something Got
a Hold on Me are pure Gospel in feel (altho with secular lyrics) more than
bluesy. She's covered Alice Cooper's Only Women Bleed.

She has always had a vast repertoire. She is a singer of R&B/soul/funk/rock --
and, yes, blues -- but there's no way one should expect her to sing a blues per
se when she appears on TV.

Her new album (yes I know it's called Matriach of the Blues!) contains a number
of really well done covers. In fact, it's one of her best albums in years IMO.
She covers Dylan's Gotta Serve Somebody in addition to a Credence Clearwater
tune and the Stones' Miss You.

Hey we all love the blues here on Blues-L but let's not expect artists whose
repertoires extend the full gamut of American soul & pop music to limit
themselves to blues.

Steve Hoffman wrote:

> Did anyone catch Etta on the Tonight Show last night?? Instead of singing a
> great blues song she sung Miss You by the Stones. I guess this is one of the
> instances where seeing a blues singer doing a cover is better than no blues
> at all.
> Patti

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