Monday, March 5, 2012

Etta James

Etta James is a new discovery for me. Like everyone else, I've heard her old version of "At Last" (1960) over the years, but it didn't make me want to hear a lot more. On the weekend I picked up a $5.00 compilation by Sony/Camden. Lots of good stuff on it, including a fairly recent live version of "At Last." It is called "At Last: The Best of ...," and apparently Sony also has a compilation, confusingly enough, called "The Very Best of ...." with some but not all of the same songs. Possibly the Camden version was originally British, then re-issued in Canada. It turns out that Sony has the rights only to fairly recent material--not what fans consider classic material of Etta's Chess/Island Records/Elektra/Private Music years. It may be that the rights to some material have to be sorted out before re-issuing can occur. There are also two albums of hers called "Love Songs," one on RCA Victor, the other on MCA. Of course the compilation I got has absolutely no liner notes other than composer and copyright info. The live version of "At Last" is probably from "Burning Down the House," with the Roots Band. "My Funny Valentine," along with several other songs, is from the RCA Victor "Love Songs." By googling I gather I'm probably hearing Ronnie Buttacavoli on trumpet and flugelhorn on both "At Last" and "My Funny Valentine." All the tunes are good stuff, a bit of a mix of genres, with lots of good musicians. Songs and best info I have on albums: 1. The Blues is my business: Let's Roll. Detroit Bobby Murray on guitar? 2. If I Had Any Pride Left At All: Love's Been Rough on Me. 3. It's a Man's Man's Man's World: All the Way. 4. I've Been Loving You Too Long: Love's Been Rough on Me (1997); Love Songs (RCA Victor)(2006). 5. Try a Little Tenderness: Matriarch of the Blues (2000); Love Songs. 6. Night and Day: Love Songs. 7. Come Rain or Come Shine: Blue Gardenia; Love Songs. 8. I'll Be Seeing You: Love Songs. 9. The Very Thought of You: Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday. 10: The Man I Love: Mystery Lady; Love Songs. 11. Someone to Watch Over Me: 12. My Funny Valentine: Love Songs. 13. Cry Me a River: Blue Gardenia. 14. Strongest Weakness: Let's Roll. 15. Crawlin' King Snake: Blues to the Bone. 16. At Last (live): Burnin' Down the House.

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