Personnel includes: Etta James, Harvey Fuqua, Sugar Pie DeSanto (vocals); Matt Murphy, David Walker, Sidney Pinchback, Cash McCall, Danny Kortchmar, "Wah Wah" Watson, Lowell George (guitar); Clifford Clark (alto saxophone);, Gavrell Cooper, Ben Branch, Gene Barge (tenor saxophone); Delbert Hill (baritone saxophone); Floyd Newman, Charles Chalmers (saxophone); Burgess Gardner, Oscar Brashear, Raymond Orr, Murray Watson (trumpet); Morris Ellis, Willie Henderson (trombone); Milton Bland (piano); Carl Banks, Barry Beckeett, Vonzell Cooper (organ); Charles Stepney (vibraphone); Reggie Boyd, Marion Wright, David Henderson (bass); Al Duncan, Lawrence Hamilton (drums); Phillip Thomas (percussion); The Moonglows (background vocals).
Producers include: Billy Davis, Gabriel Mekler, Esmond Edwards, Monk Higgins, Rick Hall.
Reissue producer: Andy McKaie.
Principally recorded in Chicago between 1960-1975. Includes liner notes by David Ritz.
Digitally remastered by Erick Labson (MCA Music Media Studios), except "Would It Make Any Difference," "Pay Back" and "Two Sides To Every Story" which were remixed to stereo from original 4-tracks.
THE ESSENTIAL ETTA JAMES contains 2 CDs worth of recordings Etta James made for Chess Records between 1960-1975. Also included is a 16-page booklet with photos, interviews and track-by-track annotations.
This is the definitive collection of Etta James's career-defining work at Chess Records. Spanning two discs and 44 tracks, THE ESSENTIAL takes the listener chronologically from 1960's heart-wrenching story-song "All I Could Do Is Cry" to 1975's "Lovin' Arms." Newcomers will be impressed by what long-time fans have always known: James is a masterful vocalist capable of moving from airy, nuanced balladry to gutbucket, growling blues within the space of single measure.
This range is amply represented on THE ESSENTIAL with string-sweetened ballads ("Trust in Me"), rave-up rockers ("Something's Got a Hold on Me"), and soul workouts ("842-3089 [Call My Name]"). While the lion's share of material comes from the early '60s, 1967's "Tell Mama," recorded at the famed Muscle Shoals studio and possibly James's best-known song, comes blazing out on the second disc. The singer's skill at interpreting popular material can be heard too on Don Covay's "You Got It," Otis Redding's "Security," and three tunes by Randy Newman, including a deeply funky "You Can Leave Your Hat On." Whether accompanied by lush orchestrations or a full-tilt R&B band, James's gritty, soulful voice never faltered, and this set brings a beautiful sampling of her achievements under one cover.