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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Etta James - The Montreux Years - New release review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Montreux Years, from Etta James and it's dynamite. Opening with Breakin' Up Somebody's Home, Etta James hits like a truck on lead vocal, supported by Herman Roscoe Ernest III on drums, Ronnie Buttacavoli on trumpet, Bobby Murray on guitar, Josh Sklair on guitar, Bobby Vega on bass, Kraig Kilby on trombone, Richard Howell on sax, David Matthew on keyboards, Donto James on percussion and Claude Nobs on harmonica. Great opener. Emotionally charged, A Lover Is Forever, is a quiet contrast to the opener with James wooing the mic over the electro acoustic guitar work of Murray and Sklair. Very nice. Rockin, Tell Mama, has great drive, with hot vocal by James, backed by Klaus Doldinger on sax, Lew Soloff on trumpet, Rick Wakeman on keys, David Fathead Newman on sax, Brian Ray on guitar, Richard Tee on keys, Steve Ferrone on drums and David Lowrey on bass. R&B track, Something's Got A Hold On Me gets an uptempo, gospel like feel with backing by Ernst III, Buttacavoli, Murray. Jim Pugh on keys, Sklair on guitar, Vega on bass, Kirby on trombone, Donoto foster on percussion, Howell and Sametto Dennis on vocal. Excellent! Slinky, high stepper, Come To Mama is really great with a strong under pinning by Vega and Ernest III, a scorching guitar solo by Murray and great horn work by Buttacavoli, Kilby and Howell. A string of ballads including At Last, Trust In Me and Sunday Kind of Love is really nice, with james showcasing the jazz styling that made her famous. Very nice. Rolling the blues out big and strong, I Sing The Blues For You is wide open with a full jam by Murray, Sklair, Matthews and Richard Cousins and solid horn backing by Buttacavoli and Kilby. Closing the forst cd is Baby What You Want Me to Do with Brian Ray with a solid guitar solo , Cash McCall on guitar, Tony Cook on drums, Gene Dinwitty with a potent sax solo, fred Beckmeier on bass, Bobby Martin on keys, Keith Johnson on trumpet and Claude Nobs on harmonica. 

Disc 2 is all recorded in July of '75. Opening with a funky, Respect Yourself, James' vocals are gritty and tight, backed by Brian Ray on guitar, Frank Able on keys, Poindexter on sax, Klaus Doldinger on tenor sax, Johnson on tuba and bass trombone and John Paul Jones on bass. Drown In My Own Tears is an excellent soul track in the lines of Aretha '69 or her work at Muscle Shoals. Excellent! An excellent remake of her original track, I'd Rather Go Blind, is included her and she really works hard on that 9+ minute presentation. Very nice. Slow blues, Baby What You Want Me To Do, gives james a great opportunity to stretch thsi famous blues track to new heights. With her powerful vocals and the guitar work of Ray shining, backed by Poindexter, Doldinger, and Johnson, this is really cool. Wrapping the set is TBone Walker's Stormy Mondy with excellent guitar work by Ray and Albe's delicate key strokes setting the pace. The warm sax work of Poindexter prepares the way and james holds nothing back with a stellar vocal performance that pushes the band even further. Excellent closer for an excellent pair of discs.

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