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DVD REVIEW

 

ETTA JAMES

Live at Montreux 1993

Eagle Vision EREDV 948

 

 

1993
1. Funky Good Time
2. Hold On, I'm Coming
3. I Just Wanna Make Love to You
4. I'd Rather Go Blind
5. How Strong is a Woman?
6. A Lover is Forever
7. Beware
8. Hard to Handle
9. Just One More Day
10. Come to Mama
11. Why I Sing the Blues
 
Etta James - Vocals
Josh Sklair, Bobby Murray - Guitars
Kraig Kilby - Trombone
Ronnie Buttacavoli - Trumpet
Dave Matthews - Keyboards
Richard Cousins - Bass
Donto James - Drums
 
1975
1. Respect Yourself
2. Drown in My Own Tears
3. W.O.M.A.N.
4. I'd Rather Go Blind
 
Etta James - Vocals
Arthur Young - Trumpet
Gene "Mighty Flea" Conners - Trombone
Klaus Doldinger - Tenor sax
Pony Poindexter - Alto sax, soprano sax
Howard Johnson - Baritone sax
Brian Ray - Guitar
John Paul Jones - Bass
Douglas Hammond - Drums
Frank Abel - Electric piano, organ
 
 
1977
1. Medley: At Last/Trust in Me/A Sunday Kind of Love
 
Etta James - Vocals
Brian Ray - Guitar
Richard Tee, Rick Wakeman - Keyboards
Klaus Doldinger, David "Fathead" Newman - Saxes
Lew Soloff - Trumpet
Steve Ferrone - Drums
Dave Lowrey - Bass
Herbie Mann - Flute
 
1978
1. Take It to the Limit
 
Etta James - Vocals
Brian Ray, Cash McCall - Guitars
Tony Cook - Drums
Gene Dinwitty - Sax
Fred Beckmeier - Bass
Bobby Martin - Keyboards
Keith Johnson - Trumpet
 
1989
1. Tell Mama
2. Something's Got a Hold on Me
3. Breaking up Somebody's Home
4. I Got the Will
5. Sugar on the Floor
 
Etta James - Vocals
Ronnie Buttacavoli - Trumpet
Herman Ernest - Drums
Bobby Murray, Josh Sklair - Guitars
Jimmy Pugh - Piano, organ
Bobby Vega - Bass
Kraig Kilby - Trombone
Donto James - Percussion
Richard Howell - Sax
Sametto James - Vocals
 
1990
1. Your Good Thing is about to End
 
Etta James - Vocals
Ronnie Buttacavoli - Trumpet
Richard Howell - Sax
Kraig Kilby - Trombone
David Matthews - Keyboards
Josh Sklair, Bobby Murray - Guitars
Donto James - Percussion
Bobby Vega - Bass
Herman Ernest - Drums
 

 

Was Etta James a singer of the blues, jazz, soul or even rock 'n' roll? With such a powerful personality and such a distinctive voice, artificial categories tend to evaporate. She was just a great singer, as you can see in this selection of videos filmed at the Montreux Jazz Festival between 1975 and 1993.

The 1993 concert opens with two numbers from the backing band which illustrate the crossover between jazz and the blues. Etta enters for I Just Wanna Make Love to You and, from then on, she dominates the stage with her huge presence. How Strong is a Woman? and Hard to Handle suggest that she is a feisty lady who is not to be messed with, while A Lover is Forever shows her gentler side, accompanied simply by the guitars.

Then we jump back to the 1970s. The footage is less clear but Etta's charisma is undimmed. For the 1975 session, she is announced as "First time in Europe" but thereafter she became a regular feature of the Montreux Festival. She seems to have had a more gritty delivery back in the seventies - even rasping - but she didn't just sing the songs: she acted them out. And she got the audence involved in some call-and-response.

It is a bonus to see glimpses in the background of such musicians as Richard Tee, Rick Wakeman and Herbie Mann. And the 1977 medley has some sterling interpolations from tenorist David "Fathead" Newman. All Etta's backing bands contained really professional musicians, following the singer's every move and inflection. But the lead guitarists' licks didn't change much over the years. Take It to the Limit from 1978 was a hit for the Eagles but Etta's band vocalizes to give her a distinctive gospel-style backing.

Etta died in January 2012. This DVD makes a fitting memorial to her very special talent. The disc is also available on Blu-ray (ERBRD 5162) and extracts from it are on a CD (EAGCD490).

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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