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4.6 out of 5 stars57
4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 11 May 2008
Etta James was with Chess for over fifteen years (appearing initially on their subsidiary labels Argo and Cadet) between 1960 and 1976, adapting and rolling with the times, trying out new ideas, never selling out, and making a heap of great blues and soul records. If squeezing fifteen years of material onto just three discs seems a tall order, imagine the absurdity of trying to compile The Best Of Etta James, which is a single CD of her Chess years. This box set represents far better value and is fully recommended, with just a couple of small caveats.

Firstly, there are too many mono mixes, even from the nineteen-seventies when stereo versions were prepared as a matter of course and are available elsewhere, and secondly, there is too little detailed documentation.

Finally, whilst I have no quarrel at all with the title, The Very Best Of Etta James, the subtitle The Chess Singles is just misleading. Some A-sides are absent, seven B-sides are included (just as well, as these include All I Could Do Was Cry, I Just Want To Make Love To You and I'd Rather Go Blind) and contrarily there are several album tracks and even a couple of outtakes that weren't released at the time at all. These include her brilliant version of Do Right Woman, Do Right Man recorded at Muscle Shoals and inexplicably left in the can until 1993.

This collection would be well complemented by Miss Etta James - The Complete Kent And Modern Recordings, the period before she signed to Chess. It's worth remembering that when these days artists are expected to be at their peak after one single, singers like Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Etta James had been learning their craft for several years before becoming established, and Etta James' first single appeared in 1955.
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on 4 October 2005
I bought this 3 disc compilation set over the single CD version, because it features all of the songs plus about 30 more for hardly any more money. Was it a good buy? You bet! Etta James is one of the best soul singers, especially if you like you soul a little bit on the bluesy side. 'At last' is worth the cost of the CD alone, but there are about 50 more great tracks in this set-you can't lose.
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VINE VOICEon 2 September 2009
Etta James was one of the first and best singers to combine soul and blues in a style sufficiently commercial to appeal to fans of both genres. This album delivers a huge feast of Etta's work and represents superb value for money. Even if some of the recordings are a bit on the thin side, they evoke memories of the times they were made. Terrific.
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on 21 April 2010
How did Etta James pass me by when I was so into Atlantic Soul in my youth? This music is timeless and Etta has as much soul as Aretha. My personal discovery of the decade.
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on 18 November 2010
This is a ridiculously good-value collection of Etta's output on Chicago's Chess label. The sound is crystal clear throughout and there's not a dud track to be found. She even manages to turn the somewhat soppy 'I got you babe' into a blistering slice of raunchy soul. You'd be mad to pass up this chance to own the prime of Miss Etta James, one of the hardest-hitting and most soulful of female vocalists. If nothing else, you can listen to 'I'd rather go blind' till the cows come home.
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on 31 August 2009
This is a great overview of early Etta James work.
This defines the Blues,Soul,Rythm & Blues links.
Ageless stuff !
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on 10 April 2009
Etta James some fantastic tracks.... i was about to download from i tunes then i checked out the price on amazon the money i saved was huge, even if you dont like all the tracks at this price you cant go wrong.
Evelyn
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on 14 October 2010
The Very Best of Etta James by Chess Singles is a wonderful choice of Etta James singles. Good Listening and recommended to all.
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on 17 December 2010
BUY IT AT TWICE THE PRICE.....ITS A GIFT.....AND BESIDES ETTA JAMES IS A LIVING LEGEND....A TRIPLE CD ALBUM FOR UNDER A FIVER NEW...INCREDIBLE VALUE.
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on 2 July 2012
As a collection of Chess recordings, this one is hard to fault. There are a few track missing that might have added to the package - Can a compilation is ever be perfect? - but l can't complain. In addition, the sound quality is very good. Considering the price for this content, l think this is a worthy purchase. In the absence of a tribute box set to the the great lady - it won't be long - this collection does a good job in highlighting what a soulful and gutsy performer she was.
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