Etta James – 1968 – Tell Mama
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!!
A classic album from Etta recorded at Muscle Shoals, with deep soul backing that’s different than that used on many of her Chicago-recorded albums of the 60s! Etta’s back in hard-belting R&B-tinged territory here a bit more sophisticated than the 50s, with a good mix of hard soul numbers and ballads, opening up in some southern territory that really suits her well.
This is one of the greatest soul albums ever recorded, and is certainly among Etta James’ best work.
This is a @320 vinyl rip of my original Cadet record with covers.
A1 Tell Mama (2:20)
A2 I’d Rather Go Blind (2:33)
A3 Watch Dog (2:06)
A4 Love Of My Man (2:37)
A5 I’m Gonna Take What He’s Got (2:32)
A6 The Same Rope (2:39)
B1 Security (2:44)
B2 Steal Away (2:19)
B3 My Mother In Law (2:20)
B4 Don’t Lose Your Good Thing (2:26)
B5 It Hurts Me So Much (2:34)
B6 Just A Little Bit (2:11)
California singer, then plagued with personal demons, went to record her best 1960s Southern soul outpost Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, was where the work. Accompanied by the same house bluesmen who’d roweled Aretha Franklin just months earlier, James unleashes “Tell Mama” (a Top Forty hit in 1967), “I’d Rather Go Blind” (her magnum opus), and ten pearls of slightly lower luster. Her vocals throughout are paragons of female virility.
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;
More soul than blues, Etta James’ “Tell Mama” originally came out in 1968 as a twelve-track LP. The sound is terrific, clear and realistic, as is the production by Rick Hall. And those who feel that Etta James’ Chess recordings featured too many violins and not enough power need to pick up “Tell Mama” right away!
The original album was top-notch in its own right, featuring the all-time classic soul ballad “I’d Rather Go Blind”, excellent covers of Ed Townsend’s “I’m Gonna Take What He’s Got”, Otis Redding’s “Security” and Jimmy Hughes’ “Don’t Lose Your Good Thing”, and a couple of driving up-tempo numbers, most notably Don Covay’s “Watch Dog” and the magnificent title track.
Etta James never sounded better than during these four 1967-1968 sessions, and the various musicians never set a foot (or a finger) wrong.
There really isn’t a single weak track among the twelve songs originally issued. Even practically unknown songs like the swaggering soul stomper “My Mother In Law” and the slow “It Hurts Me So Much”, which have never been covered by anyone and don’t appear on any of Etta James’ compilation albums, are highly enjoyable, and Etta’s rendition of “Just A Little Bit” (AKA “I Just Want A Little Bit”) is a supremely funky slice of soul-blues.
Having already been an established leading soul singer for 13 years and having 18 R&B hits to her name, in 1967 Etta went to record in Alabama at the legendary Muscle Shoals studio. The result was her most accomplished album, on which her voice had been mixed to perfection, allowing her to sound strong on the previously distorted high notes. James was rightly seen in a different light as one of the great soul voices of all time as she belted out powerful tracks such as “The Love Of My Man” and “Watch Dog.” Her slower numbers were equally arresting, including the wonderful “I’d Rather Go Blind.”