In answer to the increasing popularity of rival singers like Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Laura Lee and Irma Thomas, Leonard Chess was prompted to take his 'Queen of Soul', Etta James to Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record under the hot production hand of Rick Hall. Hall's well-known past successes convinced Chess to give the young producer the creative freedom to work his magic. That result gave James' career a jump start and this album originally released as Cadet LP-802 in January of 1968. James made four trips to Muscle Shoals during 1967 & '68 that yielded the tracks found here.
The heavily enhanced elegant soul approach that Etta James takes as a vocalist was recognized by Hall and Chess, who surrounded her with a horn-laden assemblage of great R & B sessionists. In different combinations the following musicians contributed to the twenty-two tracks on this biscuit: Trumpeter Gene 'Bowlegs' Miller, saxmen Charles Chalmers, Aaron Varnell, Floyd Newman, and James Mitchell; keyboardists Marvell Thomas, Carl Banks, Dewey Oldham, and Barry Beckett; along with Jimmy Ray Johnson and Albert Lowe Jr. on guitars. The rhythms were nailed down by bassist David Hood and drummer Roger Dawkins. Etta's vocals come together with emotive content, delicious deliveries, and the reactively fine backup listed above.
Leading off the title cut, which became her last R & B chart topper, is accompanied by more tunes she has made famous like "I'd Rather Go Blind", "Security", "You Got It", and two takes on "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man". Interestingly hear her also perform period favorites like Sonny Bono's "I Got You Babe", Don Covay's "I'm Gonna Take What He's Got", and Roscoe Gordon's "Just A Little Bit". The are also select soul compositions by soulful writing teams like like Spooner Oldham and Don Penn along with Glenn Sutton and Billy Sherrill. This is an excellent profile of early Etta material that reflects how competitive popular R & B music was. Nonetheless, this reissue combines the original vinyl material with three more unreleased tunes plus an added two sides from a single dating back to 1968 (Cadet single 5606). Nothing less than premium R & B on this plate.
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