Liner Note Author: Steven Stolder.
Etta James was only in her twenties when she signed with Chicago's Chess Records in 1960, but she was already a seasoned singer, possessing the uncanny ability to bring the whole of her life to bear on a single lyric, and every song she sang she made her own, translating the simplest fare into deeply personal statements. James remained with Chess for some 15 years, and some of her best moments at the label have been pulled for this collection, which shows off the range of this impressive artist, who tackles everything from orchestral pop ("Anything to Say You're Mine," her signature "At Last"), torch songs ("Don't Cry Baby"), gospel ("Something's Got a Hold on Me"), girl group pop ("Two Sides (To Every Story)"), and heart-wrenching soul ("Tell Mama," "I'd Rather Go Blind") to the unclassifiable (Randy Newman's gothic and lusty "Let's Burn Down the Cornfield"). Because of her blues-based comeback in the 1990s, James is usually thought of as a blues singer, but there's a good deal more to the picture than that, and this well-chosen and stunningly varied anthology provides strong evidence that Etta James has long been one of the best singers of her generation -- in any style. ~ Steve Leggett