In many ways Etta James resembled a female Ray Charles in her unerring ability to tackle (and sometimes combine) all of the strands of American popular music, from rock & roll to R&B, blues, country, gospel, jazz, and pure pop and soul, while still maintaining a distinct feel and sound that was all her own, and she did this throughout a five-decade career that is impressive for its consistency. This 25-track set (mostly drawn from her time with Chess Records) is hardly definitive (it doesn't have classic James' tracks like "Anything to Say You're Mine," "Don't Cry Baby," "Something's Got a Hold on Me," or the girl group pop of "Two Sides (To Every Story)," for instance, or any of her late-career blues tracks), but it does do a good job of spotlighting James' range and versatility by collecting sides like her signature "At Last," the soul-pop masterpieces "Tell Mama" and "I'd Rather Go Blind," and saucy versions of Willie Dixon's "Spoonful" and Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On," all of which offer ample proof that James was one of the best singers of her generation – in any style.
After her tough blues and R&B records in the early years of the 21st century – 2003's Let's Roll and 2004's Blues to the Bone – Etta James throws a quiet storm changeup. All the Way's 11 tracks are pop songs – indeed, a few are standards – written between the 1930s and the 1990s. James song choices are curious. The Great American Songbook tunes include the title track (written by Samuel Kahn and Jimmy Van Heusen), Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim's "Somewhere" from West Side Story, and even Bob Telson's "Calling You" from the score to the 1987 film Baghdad Cafe – it's been recorded by everyone from Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion to Jeff Buckley and Gal Costa…
This 15-track compilation focuses on the earliest sessions recorded by Etta James for Modern Records between 1955 and 1957. James was only a teenager when she first recorded for the L.A.-based label. Her youthful exuberance and powerhouse delivery still generate that initial excitement captured on these remastered versions of "The Wallflower (Roll with Me Henry)," "The Pick-Up," "W-O-M-A-N," and "Good Rockin' Daddy." This set is a great introduction to James' early raw recordings; however, it excludes a few tracks from the superior The Best of the Modern Years on Metro Blue.
At Last! is the debut studio album by American blues and soul artist Etta James, which includes the title song "At Last". The album was released on Argo Records in November of 1960 and was produced by Phil and Leonard Chess. The original release contained four of James' hits on the Rhythm and Blues Records Chart between 1960 and 1961. It was her first of five studio albums James would release on the Argo label. At Last! was ranked at #119 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2012.