Personnel: Etta James (vocals); Harvey Fuqua, Richard Berry, Sugar Pie DeSanto (vocals); Brian Ray (guitar, slide guitar); Danny Kortchmar, David T. Walker, Albert Jr. Lowe, Ken Marco, Josh Sklair, Kenny Greenberg, Lowell George, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Matt Murphy, Reggie Young , Arik Marshall, Steve Cropper, Wah-Wah Watson (guitar); Jim Horn (saxophone, horns); Floyd Newman, James Mitchell , Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis , Red Holloway, Aaron Varnell, Charles Chalmers (saxophone); Gavrell Cooper (tenor saxophone); Big Jim Wynn (baritone saxophone); Don Johnson, Gene Miller (trumpet); David Duke , Charlie Findley, Gene Cipriano, Bobby Keyes, Charles Dinwiddie, Steve Madaio, Trevor Lawrence, Lew McCreary (horns); Dewey Oldham (piano, organ); Devonia Williams, George Davis, John Young (piano); Keith Johnson , Bobby Murray (electric piano); Barry Beckett (organ, keyboards); Vonzell Cooper, Carl Banks (organ); Gabriel Mekler, Jim Pugh , Larry Nash, William D. "Smitty" Smith (keyboards); Mike Lawler (synthesizer); Larry Mizell (ARP synthesizer); David Hood (electric bass); Donto Metto James (drums, percussion); Roger Dawkins, Leard Bell, Jeff Porcaro, Al Duncan , Ralph Penland, Roger Hawkins (drums); King Errisson (congas); Maritto Corea, Gary Coleman, Tom Roady (percussion); Henry Jackson Company, Dobie Gray, Jean Mitchell, Mr. William Henry Smith's Jubilee Singers, Rueben Franklin, Joyce Austin, Gilbert Ivey, Jonell Mosser, Merry Clayton, Ashley Cleveland, The Dreamers, Thomas Cain, Carol Chase (background vocals); Cornell Dupree (guitar); Richard Tee (piano, organ, keyboards); Cedar Walton (piano); Johnny Otis, Steve Gadd (drums).
Liner Note Author: Bud Scoppa.
Recording information: Chicago, IL (11/25/1954-??/??/1993); Los Angeles, CA (11/25/1954-??/??/1993); Muscle Shoals, AL (11/25/1954-??/??/1993); Nashville, TN (11/25/1954-??/??/1993); New Orleans, LA (11/25/1954-??/??/1993); New York, NY (11/25/1954-??/??/1993); Riverside, CA (11/25/1954-??/??/1993); The New Era Club, Nashville, TN (11/25/1954-??/??/1993).
Photographer: Jim McCrary.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Gwen Edwards; Jesse Belvin; Jack Hale; Carlena Williams; Quitman Dennis; Michael Haynes.
Arrangers: Cedar Walton; Pee Wee Ellis.
Although there have been many Etta James compilations, 2007's top-notch, two-disc GOLD collection easily stands out as one of the best overviews of the revered R&B/blues vocalist's career. While James (born Jamesetta Hawkins) is inextricably linked with her swooning early-1960s classic "At Last," this impressive set presents 35 other reasons for adulation, including the passionate "Trust in Me" and the lively, horn-laden "Tell Mama," both of which showcase the singer's remarkably powerful and emotive voice. Most James anthologies tend to stop in the '70s, but GOLD commendably extends to 2004 with a spare, simmering take on "The Sky Is Crying" that holds its own with songs she recorded decades earlier. Though THE ESSENTIAL ETTA JAMES can't be beat as an in-depth look at James's heyday, GOLD is inarguably the most wide-ranging set in the performer's extensive catalogue.