Etta James - Heart and Soul: A Retrospective (Hip-O, 2011)
Etta James was American singer who covered many genres, dabbling in jazz and rock 'n' roll while concentrating the bulk of her energies on blues and rhythm and blues. In the 1950s and 1960s, she had quite a bit of success and this four compact disc boxed set covers the majority of her most well known work. Taking songs from several labels including Modern, Argo, Chess, Warner Brothers, Fantasy, Island, Private Music, and RCA Records labels, the compilation covers music James made from made from 1955 until 2008. He most well known songs are prominently featured with tracks like The Wallflower," Good Rockin' Daddy," W-O-M-A-N," and All I Could Do Was Cry" staking out her spot as one of the most expressive singers of the era. Some interesting collaborative tracks are included as well, with James performing with the likes of B.B. King, Sugar Pie Desanto, Harvey Fuqua, and Eddie Cleanhead" Vinson. The compilation includes a 60-page booklet with an extensive liner essay, discography and photographs. My favorite tracks from James came in a scalding live album from Chess called Etta James Rocks the House" so it's nice to hear some of those again and reminded what a potent talent she was. Fans of vocals, be it rhythm and blues or straight up blues and standards would enjoy this set.