This a first rate CD of Etta James' complete sessions at Muscle Shoals Studio in Alabama recorded between August 1967 and August 1968. The CD is 22 tracks - many previously unreleased - with a total playing time of just over 54 minutes.
The material is excellent throughout. Etta James is at the top of her game, the musicians behind her are great and the recording is excellent.
Many of the tracks included here are standards in the R&B genre. If you like classic 1950s and 60s R&B, you won't go wrong with this one.
This is arguably one of the essential recordings for anyone interested in 1960s R&B.
'Tell Mama' by Etta James was a very popular charted album, originally released on Cadet label in 1968. It was released by MCA Records on CD in 1987, and now re-released in 2001, completely remastered, plus 10 bonus tracks. I have compiled a detailed song listing (BB200=Billboard Album Chart; BB Pop=Billboard Hot 100; BB R&B=Billboard Rhythm & Blues Chart; CB Pop=Cash Box Singles Chart; RW Pop=Record World Singles Chart):
LP 'TELL MAMA' (Etta James)(Cadet LPS-802)(BB200 82/1968):
01 TELL MAMA (Cadet 5578)(a-side)(BB Pop 23/1967; BB R&B 10/1967; CB Pop 27/1967; RW Pop 37/1967)(October 1967)
02 I'D RTHER GO BLIND (Cadet 5578)(b-side, October 1967)
03 WATCH DOG
04 THE LOVE OF MY MAN (Chess CH-2100)(b-side, December 1970)
05 I'M GONNA TAKE WHAT HE'S GOT (Cadet 5594)(b-side, February 1968)
06 THE SAME ROPE
07 SECURITY (Cadet 5594)(a-side)(BB Pop 35/1968; BB R&B 11/1968; CB Pop 37/1968; RW Pop 32/1968)(February 1968)
08 STEAL AWAY (Cadet 5630)(b-side, December 1968)*rare gem; CD debut.
09 MY MOTHER-IN-LAW
10 DON'T LOSE YOUR GOOD THING
11 IT HURTS ME SO MUCH
12 JUST A LITTLE BIT
13 DO RIGHT WOMAN, DO RIGHT MAN
14 YOU TOOK IT
15 I WORSHIP THE GROUND YOU WALKED ON (single version)(Cadet 5606)(b-side, May 1968)
16 I GOT YOU BABE (Cadet 5606)(a-side)(BB Pop 69/1968; BB R&B 32/1968; CB Pop 52/1968; RW Pop 51/1968)(May 1968)
17 YOU GOT IT (single version)(Cadet 5620)(a-side)(BB Pop 113/1968)(September 1968)
18 I'VE GONE TOO FAR (2001 Compilation Version)
20 ALMOST PERSUADED (single version)(Cadet 5630)(a-side)(BB Pop 79/1969; BB R&B 32/1969; CB Pop 79/1969; RW Pop 95/1969)(December 1968)
21 FIRE (Cadet 5620)(b-side, September 1968)
22 DO RIGHT WOMAN, DO RIGHT MAN (alternate version)
1 This is the definitive version of "'Tell Mama.'" The previously released version in 1987 contained the bare-bone album with poorly remastered sound. Here, we have 10 bonus tracks with a few single versions, plus other tracks completing her Muscle Shoals Sessions from 1967-1968.
2 The sound is well remastered.
Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins on January 25, 1938 in Los Angeles, California. She was nicknamed 'Miss Peaches.' She has a long illustrious career. Her singing style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel. She has frequent bouts of heroin addiction, but finally cured in the late 1970s. In 1996, her album 'Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday' won Best Jazz Vocal Performance Grammy. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2008. She died of leukemia on January 20, 2012 (age 74). Her mighty, moving voice is sorely missed.
After collecting all her 123 songs (as singles, except one song 'Bring It on Home to Me' her duet with Tony Orlando), I am in the process of collecting all her domestic albums. "'Tell Mama"' is her 11th album release, following '"Call My Name"' in 1966. This entire album is a monster of a jam that perfectly suits Etta's powerful, gritty pipes, with bumping bass, in-the-pocket drums, chankin' guitar and incisive horns, coupled with James' fierce belting. The album, with 10 bonus tracks plus many hit singles and rare gems and great sound, is totally enjoyable, and will be treasured. Naturally this set is highly recommended. Please make sure you buy this version '"Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions,"' and not the bare-bone CD "'Tell Mama"' with poor sound.
on May 9, 2001
I was introduced to Etta James with Tell Mama, which I've always thought was a fantastic song. In 1984, I picked up a French pressing of "Peaches", a double LP of her best Chess material. I can still remember listening to that album for the first time. I was absolutely blown away! Not just with her voice, but with the quality of the songs, arrangements and sound. It became one of my most treasured albums, and there it stayed until I picked up the original Tell Mama CD in '90. Though it was in mono (I was at that time a snooty stereo guy), I thoroughly loved it. I was aware of how great Rick Hall, Fame and the whole Muscle Shoals scene was; how they turned out so many great records.
This is an essential reissue, as it includes all of the songs that Etta cut there. The unreleased stuff is nearly as good as the original album. I now find out that most of the original masters were mono only, for some reason. At least we get the stereo masters that exist. It is evident from the pictures and the quotes included in this package that there was a ton of mutual respect between the Muscle Shoals folks and Etta, and it shows in the music. As it turned out, these sessions gave Etta her last big hit, unfortunately. But it certainly wasn't the end of her producing great music; her ongoing career is a testament to that.
I've grown to love almost everything that Etta did for Chess, particularly the earlier stuff, when crossover was the primary aim. Her treatment of standards and ballads was exquisite. But when she came to Alabama, it was to cut Southern-fried soul, and she nailed it!
An essential Etta record, an essential soul record, an essential '60s record. 'Nuff said.
on April 25, 2001
Not too long ago and still today many artists of Miss James caliber would '' sell out '' to popular music for one sure hit.That is everyone but Etta, these recordings take you back to the true nitty gritty of up tempo blackeyed soul , to the southern sounds of down home soul. These are not only a great compilation of Etta's best work but a testament of the greatest vocalist to live!If any one deservers to be honored on VHI DIVAS LIVE,it would only be fitting to honor the real ''queen of soul''. Sorry no disrepect to Aretha but the voice tells the story!This is one of the best remastered recordings I have heard in a long time, the other is ''LADY IN SATIN''!If I was marooned on a desert island this is all you would need, it covers practically everything, even a remake of the old Cher hit ''I got you babe'',but Etta's interpertation makes a trifling song into a listenable and satisfying song. Etta's got the power and the loyalty to do what she wants, and with a voice like hers she can! You must see her performing live in concert, she will blow you away!
on August 7, 2001
A must have for every soul brother and sister! Everything is perfect here, the chemistry is right, Etta swindles from the sheer contempt of "Tell Mama", to the poignancy of "The Love of my man", to the exuberant "Security" and the moving "I'd rather go blind"....Five stars are not enough!!
on January 14, 2003
The ever-vivacious Etta James is one of R&B's true greats, an artist whose work will always stand the test of time and this album, originally released in 1968, is one of her best-known and most powerful. More dynamic than expressive, James was a gal who clearly knew how to rock, capable of the same sort of expansiveness as Jimmy Rushing or even jump blues shouters such as Wynonie Harris, but also with a touch of the sleekness seen in Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald. The "Tell Mama" album is a flawless, timeless crowd pleaser, packed with upbeat, compact material, a tailormade showcase for James' mousy snarl. Backed by the best of the Muscle Shoals crew, this is music that can't easily be faulted; with ten bonus tracks added on for good measure, this CD edition is pretty hard to resist.