Musician - 4/93, pp.93-94
"...Etta James tears up a Nashville joint circa 1963 with a mix of hits and covers ranging from Ray Charles to Robert Nighthawk..."
ROCKS THE HOUSE is the only live recording from Etta James' Chess recording career (late 1950s to mid 1960s).
Personnel: Etta James (vocals); David Walker (guitar); Gavrell Cooper (tenor saxophone); Vonzell Cooper (organ); Marion Wright (bass); Freeman Brown, Richard Waters (drums).
Recorded live at The New Era Club, Nashville, Tennessee on September 27 and 28, 1963. Originally released on Argo (4032). Includes liner notes by Ralph Bass and by Don Snowden.
Digitally remastered by Paul Elmore (MCA Studios, North Hollywood, California).
Personnel: Etta James (vocals); David T. Walker (guitar); Gavrell Cooper (tenor saxophone); Vonzell Cooper (organ); Richard Waters, Freeman Brown (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Paul Elmore.
Liner Note Authors: Don Snowden; Ralph Bass.
Recording information: New Era Club, Nashville, TN (09/27/1963-09/28/1963).
Editor: Ron Malo.
Though the studio albums Etta James made for Chess in the 1960s usually had the blues singer surrounded by lush production and string-heavy arrangements, this live date finds her performing with only a rhythm section, organist, guitarist, and tenor saxophonist. The singer seems to respond to both the stripped-down setting and the enthusiastic audience with noticeable abandon. In fact, James the classy balladeer, a role she sometimes plays on her studio albums, is nowhere to be found on this blazing set. The only time the band slows down is on the tearjerker story-song "All I Could Do Is Cry" (though what the tune lacks in tempo it makes up for in emotional intensity).
The rest of the set is straight-edged blues and R&B, including covers of some hits of the day, like "Money (That's What I Want)" and Ray Charles's "What'd I Say." Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do" (on which James does a growling, harmonica-imitating vocal solo) steps up the blues quotient, as does the band's finale of Willie Dixon's "I Just Want To Make Love to You," with James's gospel-drenched pipes wailing all the while. ETTA JAMES ROCKS THE HOUSE indeed.