27 Oct Etta James – 1966 – Call My Name

Etta James – 1966 – Call My Name

It’s extremely difficult for me to pick an album other than “At Last!” by the incomparable Etta James to jump-start what will most definitely be a series of Gems Of Jams to follow.  In choosing, I decided to go with one of my personal favorites of hers, an obscure record, but the album that launched a dirtier and grittier sound from Etta.  The extraordinary beauty of Etta’s early ’60s work is that she was a piranha cast into a sea of orchestral arrangements.

 The music was pretty, but her voice (even at 22) brought a razor-like growl to each track that nearly spliced the strings off the symphony backing her.  She was also surrounded by white background singers to appeal to white record-buyers and would sing so loud; she’d bust a microphone every now and then.  Released in 1967, “Call My Name” is a 12-song groove that will have you subconsciously “stank-facing” at any given moment.

Tracks
A1 Happiness 2:48
A2 That’s All I Want From You 2:45
A3 Have a Little Faith in Me 2:40
A4 I’m So Glad (I Found Love in You) 3:12
A5 You Are My Sunshine 2:37
A6 It Must Be Your Love 2:52
B1 842-3089 (Call My Name) 2:57
B2 Don’t Pick Me for Your Fool 2:31
B3 I Prefer You 2:50
B4 Nobody Loves Me 2:45
B5 It’s All Right 2:37
B6 Nobody Like You 2:53

I was somewhat tentative in picking this one up. Not because of a lack of trust in Miss James bringing the goods, as she always does, but because of my slight aversion toward mid-60s soul coming from Chicago… Chi-town in the early to mid-60s had a habit of drowning its soul vocalists in ill-fitting orchestral arrangements, old-timey choirs and overtly smooth production values. For a good example: check out most of Jackie Wilson’s early to mid-60s recordings, and compare them with the stuff he delivered post-soul salvation in 1966. 

Etta had been saddled with this style of supper-club soul as well, but, luckily, picking up ‘Call My Name’ turned out to be quite rewarding. Recorded mostly in 1966, this LP is a pretty solid outing virtually all the way through.

The best track, “Happiness“, combines beautiful melodies with a sturdy, heavy groove and the anthemic “842-3089 (Call My Name)” is an obvious nod towards Wilson Pickett’s massive hit “364-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.), throwing in some Southern aesthetics in the mix.

There’s a fatback bounce to “That’s All I Want From You“, with its blaring horn chart, and the incessant stomper “I’m So Glad (I Found My Love)” mixes the tambourine-flavored sweet of Motown with the bottom-heavy groove of Memphis.

You Are My Sunshine” is not to be confused with the country standard: this is an R&B blow-out featuring a saucy sax, which perfectly alligns itself with Etta’s passionate vocal.

The downhome bluesy “Don’t Pick Me for Your Fool” is  further evidence of Etta looking south (check out her full-throttled vocal delivery, juxtaposted with those brilliant three-note horn riffs), as do “I Prefer You“, and especially the album closer, “Nobody Like You“, both delicious Stax-esque, mid-tempo grooves.

A typical down and out bit of wailing and pleading follows on the menacing “Nobody Loves Me“, a superb minor-keyed soul-blues set to a loping, gritty beat. More great horn work here, as well as some blistering guitar licks.

I’m a little less enthused about the remaining three tracks, which, while never bad, hint back at the ‘overblown’ era: the fast-paced “It’s All Right“, the overtly sentimental slowie “Have Faith in Me” and the smooth “It Must Be Your Love” sound a bit out of place here.

But that still means that you have nine bona fide soul gems here, making this a must-have album for any fan of the genre. True, Etta went for broke on the follow-up, ‘Tell Mama’, but ‘Call My Name’ is a grand set-up for that legendary disc.


Bonus

Etta James- 1978 – Deep in The Night

Originally released on Warners Brothers to scant acclaim in 1978, this Jerry Wexler-produced masterpiece finds James in astounding voice with a batch of great material to apply her massive interpretive powers to. The band, including the cream of the late-’70s Los Angeles session hot-shots (Cornell Dupree, Jeff Porcaro, Chuck Rainey, Plas Johnson, Jim Horn), lays it down soulful and simple and the result is a modern-day R&B classic. Highlights abound throughout, but special attention must be turned to James’ takes on “Only Women Bleed” and the Eagles’ “Take It to the Limit.”

Download link

Buy the Album

Etta James – 1966 – Call My Name

Download the Album

Etta James – 1966 – Call My Name

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18 Comments
  • Alain
    Posted at 19:47h, 28 October 2018 Reply

    Oh hell yes. Beautiful times….Beautiful Music…..

  • Samuel
    Posted at 19:47h, 28 October 2018 Reply

    That amazing voice

  • federico
    Posted at 22:24h, 28 October 2018 Reply

    Niiiiiiice! Thanks 4 sharing this 1:)

  • ymer666
    Posted at 10:58h, 29 October 2018 Reply

    It’s my favourite year for music .thanks

  • Fabio
    Posted at 21:10h, 29 October 2018 Reply

    its sad that they cant make music beautiful any more

  • Cedric
    Posted at 13:14h, 30 October 2018 Reply

    Damn, I sure do love powerful voices.

  • Stephanie
    Posted at 13:16h, 30 October 2018 Reply

    Etta James is second to none!

  • Nani
    Posted at 19:02h, 30 October 2018 Reply

    Once again, another nice selection! Thanks!!

  • Gabriel
    Posted at 19:30h, 30 October 2018 Reply

    Oh my. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Eleanor
    Posted at 11:05h, 31 October 2018 Reply

    This is beautiful💕

  • Arthur
    Posted at 19:04h, 31 October 2018 Reply

    One of my Etta favourites, what a feeling she has

  • Barbara
    Posted at 21:55h, 31 October 2018 Reply

    Awesome voice ♥♥♥♥♥♥

  • Vernon J
    Posted at 10:30h, 01 November 2018 Reply

    Music like this soothe the soul!!

  • Peter
    Posted at 18:21h, 01 November 2018 Reply

    Such soulful & beautiful music thanks alot Nikos!

  • Emiliano
    Posted at 21:52h, 01 November 2018 Reply

    Like always, you pick em nice!

  • Alice
    Posted at 00:05h, 02 November 2018 Reply

    Always in my play list. A classic.

  • Dee
    Posted at 09:48h, 02 November 2018 Reply

    Just love it

  • Ben
    Posted at 23:16h, 06 November 2018 Reply

    Looking forward to this one thanks

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