Rolling Stone - 12/11/03, p.124Ranked #116
in Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums Of All Time" - "[S]he hit the pop and R&B charts with three of the songs here and created a new vocal model: the crossover diva."
Personnel includes: Etta James, Harvey Fuqua (vocals); Riley Hampton Orchestra.
Producers: Leonard Chess, Phil Chess.
Reissue producer: Andy McKaie.
Originally released on Argo (4003). Includes liner notes by Andy McKaie.
Digitally remastered by Erick Labson (MCA Music Media Studios, North Hollywood, California).
When Etta James signed with Chess Records in 1960, the label decided to pair her raw, bluesy singing with a full backing band and lush orchestrations. AT LAST!, her Chess debut, shows the formula working to fine effect, as it highlights the singer's facility with different approaches including torchy balladry, jazz crooning, growling blues, and R&B shouting. She sounds equally at home on Willie Dixon stompers ("I Just Want To Make Love To You"), standards ("Stormy Weather"), and down-tempo soul workouts (the beautiful title track).
James performs several duets with Moonglows vocalist (and then-boyfriend) Harvey Fuqua, including Dixon's "Spoonful," the duo's self-penned "My Heart Cries," and the chart-hit "If I Can't Have You." The emotionally wrenching "All I Could Do Is Cry" (the lyrics have the singer watching her beloved marry another), and soothing, romantic "Trust in Me" were hits on both the pop and R&B charts, assuring the singer's name recognition and paving the way for her future successes. AT LAST! is a fine set of R&B, blues, and jazz songs that showcase James's versatility and powerhouse pipes.