“At Last!” by Etta James - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1960Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

The 22 year old Etta James really makes her mark with this exhilarating debut – she brings a vitality to each of the songs, no matter the genre origin. The set opens up with a cover of the Lulu Reed mid-west hit of ’58, “Anything To Say You’re Mine”. It’s immediately apparent, however, that Etta’s natural brand of urban R n B has been fused with a more pop-orientated string section. It leaves a certain amount of uncertainty – but Etta’s powerful timbre wins through convincingly in the end. As fantastic as the opener is, “My Dearest Darling” immediately blows it out of the water, as that infamous rasp induces chills. Etta delves back into 30s and 40s croon stylings for “Trust In Me” and “A Sunday Kind Of Love” – but her incredibly soulful treatment raises the songs way above their square roots. Side 1 closer “Tough Mary” is the only relative disappointment of the first half – those Ovaltiney backing singers are completely ridiculous on an Etta James record. You really have to wonder at record producers sometimes. Etta-power order is immediately restored on the flipside as our heroine tears right into Muddy Waters’ “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” and emerges with one of the sexiest recordings ever committed to vinyl. It’s followed with another from croonsterville – “At Last”, which had originally been done by Glenn Miller’s orchestra back in 1942. It had been made famous by Nat King Cole in 1957. Once again, in Etta’s hands, the song is elevated to classic status, completely re-invented as an earthy soul ballad. A reading of “Stormy Weather” shows great taste towards the end. “Girl Of My Dreams”, rendered as “Boy Of My Dreams” finishes the album on a low-note, as Etta’s feisty vocal is once again, inexplicably, pitted against the Ovaltineys. Fortunately, the brilliance of the set shines through, despite these occasional miss-steps.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:35] 8.0.png Etta James - Anything To Say You’re Mine (Sonny Thompson) Soul Ballad
A2 [03:01] 9.1.png Etta James - My Dearest Darling (Eddie Bocage, Paul Gayten) Blues / Rhythm n Blues
A3 [03:08] 7.5.png Etta James - Trust In Me (Jean Schwartz, Milton Ager, Ned Wever) Soul Ballad
A4 [03:15] 6.8.png Etta James - A Sunday Kind Of Love (Anita Leonard, Barbara Belle, Louis Prima, Stan Rhodes) Crooner / Cabaret
A5 [02:24] 5.8.png Etta James - Tough Mary (Lorenzo Manley) Pop
B1 [03:03] 9.8.png Etta James - I Just Want To Make Love To You (Willie Dixon) Blues / Rhythm n Blues
B2 [03:00] 9.3.png Etta James - At Last (Harry Warren, Mack Gordon) Soul Ballad
B3 [02:57] 7.2.png Etta James - All I Could Do Was Cry (Billy Davis, Berry Gordy, Gwen Gordy) Soul Ballad
B4 [03:07] 7.9.png Etta James - Stormy Weather (Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler) Crooner / Cabaret
B5 [02:21] 5.9.png Etta James - Girl Of My Dreams (Charles Clapp) Pop

© The Jukebox Rebel 2005-2020 All Rights Reserved