2011 turned out to be a bumper year for fans of the American Soul legend Etta James. February saw the "Who's Blue" Kent Soul compilation with 24 elusive tracks on Chess and Cadet - while October saw the first official CD release of "Call My Name" - a criminally forgotten Cadet Records LP from 1967. Then came "Losers Weepers" in October - an obscure album from 1970 with 11 bonus tracks (again first time on CD). Continuing that run into 2012 is this - her 1964 "Queen Of Soul" album in Stereo - also bolstered up with a copious amount of relevant bonus tracks. Here are the finite details...
UK released Monday 28 May 2012 (12 June 2012 in the USA) - "Queen Of Soul" by ETTA JAMES on Ace Records/Kent Soul CDKEND 377 (Barcode 029667237727) breaks down as follows (68:22 minutes):
1. Bobby Is His Name
2. I Wish Someone Would Care
3. That Man Belongs Back Here With Me
4. Somewhere Out
5. Breaking Point
6. Flight 101
7. Loving You More Every Day
8. Do Right
9. I Worry About You
10. Mellow Fellow
Tracks 1 to 10 are the 'Stereo' LP "Queen Of Soul" - released November 1964 in the USA on Argo Records LPS-4040
Track 11 is "You Got Me Where You Want Me" - a 1965 outtake first issued in 2000 on "The Chess Box" - a 3CD box set on MCA/Chess 088 112 288-2 [Disc 1]
Tracks 14, 20 and 22 are "You Can't Talk To A Fool", "Lover Man (Oh, Where Can He Be?)" and "Tomorrow Night" - all outtakes first released on the 1997 American CD compilation "These Foolish Things - The Classic Balladry Of Etta James" on MCA/Chess MCD 09354.
The other bonus tracks are singles as listed below... This CD will also allow fans to sequence almost 10 of her US 45's released off and around the album [track number after the title - exclusions noted]:
1. Stop The Wedding  b/w Street Of Tears [not included] on Argo 5418 (1962)
2. How Do You Speak To An Angel  b/w Would It Make Any Difference To You  on Argo 5430 (1962)
3. Pushover  b/w I Can't Hold It In Any More  on Argo 5437 (1963)
4. Be Honest With Me  b/w Pay Back [ on Argo 5445 (1963)
5. Two Sides (To Every Story)  b/w I Worry Bout You  on Argo 5452 (1963)
6. Baby What You Want Me To Do b/w What I Say on Argo 5459 (1964) [neither included]
7. Look Who's Blue [not included] b/w Loving You More Every Day  on Argo 5465 (1964)
8. Breaking Point  b/w That Man Belongs Here With Me  on Argo 5477 (1964)
9. Mellow Fellow  b/w Bobby Is His Name  on Argo 5485 (1964)
10. Only Time Will Tell  b/w I'm Sorry For You [not included] on Cadet 5526 (1966)
[Note: Tracks 11, 13, 16, 18 and 23 are MONO - all others are STEREO]
The first thing that hits you is the HUGE STEREO SOUND. Remastered by DUNCAN COWELL at Sound Mastering in London - I've sung this engineer's praises before (I reviewed all the Blue Horizon CDs he handled) - and again - it's a bang-up job. There's amazing clarity on every song - clean Stereo separation too and a huge presence on instruments - especially the brass and percussion. It is hissy in places - "Bobby Is His Name" and "Somewhere In Time" - but that's a plus because it hasn't been noise-reduced or cleaned - just left alone and allowed to breath. It's a great listen and hugely evocative of the period. The MONO variant of the LP isn't on here I know - but the large number of bonus tracks (including rarities) more than makes up for that.
The 12-page colour booklet is crammed with photos of 7" singles (most of the titles listed above), Billboard and Cash Box magazine adverts from 1962, 1963 and 1964 - as well as a set of deeply personal liner notes by GARTH CARTWRIGHT (who wrote her obituary for England's Guardian newspaper). Contributions to the compilation also came from Rudy Calvo, Mickey McGill (of The Dells), David Yeats and Mick Patrick. Like its three CD predecessors - it's a typically classy effort from Ace...
Highlights for me are her cover of the Irma Thomas slow burner "I Wish Someone Would Care" and the brass/organ funk of "Breaking Point" where she sounds not unlike a female Ray Charles. The languid "Flight 101" informs us that "the ring, the rice, the shoes, will be waiting there..." while a real powerhouse performance comes in the shape of "Loving You More Every Day" (lyrics above). It's surely the reason why so many lovers of Sixties Soul rate Etta so - no need for sheet music - like Otis she just punches out the passion with her gut-wrenching voice. The pace is upped on "Do Right" and there's a Dinah Washington feel to "I Worry About You".
The singles are a mixed bag - the cheesy "Stop The Wedding" mixes with the girly pop of "Two Sides (To Every Story)" and neither is particularly memorable. But things get better with the ballad "Only Time Will Tell" and what's shocking too is the quality of the three outtakes - especially her lovely cover of LaVern Baker's 1955 Atlantic classic "Tomorrow Night" - great production and nicely arranged strings.
Etta James sadly passed away in January 2012 after a lifetime of well-documented illnesses and addictions - eliciting an outpouring of affection from fans, industry insiders and singers alike.
This excellent CD will prolong her legacy. And once again Ace has championed someone worth remembering and delivered the goods...
on 6 June 2012
I see the 1st reviewer (Mark Barry) has given this CD a maximum five-star review; in my opinion that's quite a bit too generous for what is probably the weakest of the four recent KENT Etta James CD releases. The liners make a bit of a fuss that this is the 1st CD release of the full '65 "Queen of Soul" LP but it is obvious why..... the stronger tracks have already made it to compilations / boxed-sets whilst the weaker tracks have justifiably languished.
There is some good stuff on the original 10-track LP and Etta's vocals are uniformly excellent but in too many instances the material lets her down with so-so tracks like the cheesy "Flight 101" (with toe-curling pseudo-'airport announcements') and the surplus to requirements cover of "I Wish Somebody Would Care" (which isn't gonna make anyone forget Irma Thomas' version!). Much of remaining material on the original LP is OK to very good but often let down by very dated arrangements with 'whitebread' backing vox and prominent echoes of the early 60's girl group style (which don't mesh well with Etta's gritty vocals). As ever with Etta the ballads are usually the best tracks with her stellar vulnerable vocal on "Bobby Is His Name" making up for the iffy-backing vocals probably being the pick of the lot.
The 13 bonus tracks are mostly easily available on other Etta compilations however they do exhibit impressively punchy sound in the main though in a few instances tape 'rumble' is discernible which you can pick up on headphones but this is hardly the end of the world. The quality of the bonus tracks is the usual mixed bag consisting of a pot-pourri of styles from string laced balladry ['Tomorrow Night' - excellent! / 'How Do You Speak To An Angel' - wretched!], pseudo-girl group pastiches ['Two Sides (To Every Story)' - ugh!], bluesy ballads ['Only Time Will Tell' - good one!], proto-Northern Soul stompers ['Pay Back']. You pays your money and makes your choice though I very much doubt anyone could like all of these styles - personally I prefer Etta at her grittiest though I have to admit she's a class act when it comes to many of the string laced ballads but enough of the girl group stuff and the tracks with overweening backing vox ['I Can't Hold It Anymore' - a stinker!].
In total I count 19 passable tracks out of the 23 which isn't bad though sacriligeously I did edit some of the backing vocal excesses on the intros to a couple of these [eg. 'Be Honest With Me', 'Stop The Wedding'] when importing them onto my ipod. So in conclusion no way is this a five-star release but 3.5 stars is probably fair for what is ultimately a bit of a mixed bag of the excellent, good, mediocre & plain bad.
on 12 February 2016
“Queen of Soul” by Etta James, her 9th album from 1965 now released by reputable reissue label Ace Records from UK in 2012, contains the complete original album (10 tracks), plus 13 more bonus tracks. I have compiled a detailed song listing (BB Pop=Billboard Hot 100; BB R&B=Billboard Rhythm & Blues Chart; CB Pop=Cash Box Singles Chart; RW Pop=Record World Singles Chart):
LP “QUEEN OF SOUL” (Etta James)(Argo LPS-4040)(1964)*stereo:
01 BOBBY IS HIS NAME (Argo 5485)(b-side, December 1964)
02 I WISH SOMEBODY WOULD CARE
03 THAT MAN BELONGS BACK HERE WITH ME (Argo 5477)(b-side, June 1964)
04 SOMEWHERE OUT
05 BREAKING POINT (Argo 5477)(a-side)(RW Pop 143/1964)(June 1964)
06 FLIGHT 101
07 LOVING YOU MORE EVERY DAY (Argo 5465)(a-side)(BB Pop 65/1964; BB R&B 7/1963; CB Pop 84/1963; RW Pop 85/1963)(March 1964)
08 DO RIGHT
09 I WORRY ‘BOUT YOU (Argo 5452)(b-side, September 1963)(BB Pop 118/1963; CB Pop 118/1963)*double sided hit; correct title “I Worry Bout You” not “I Worry About You” in the booklet.
10 MELLOW FELLOW (Argo 5485)(a-side)(BB R&B 34/1964; CB Pop 127/1964)(December 1964)*rare gem; CD debut.
11 YOU GOT ME WHERE YOU WANT ME*previously unreleased
12 ONLY TIME WILL TELL (Cadet 5526)(uncharted a-side, January 1966)*stereo
13 PUSHOVER (Argo 5437)(a-side)(BB Pop 25/1963; BB R&B 7/1963; CB Pop 24/1963; RW Pop 24/1963)(March 1963)
14 YOU CAN’T TALK TO A FOOL*previously unreleased; stereo
15 WOULD IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO YOU (Argo 5430)(a-side)(BB Pop 64/1963; CB Pop 68/1963; RW Pop 70/1963)(December 1962)*stereo
16 STOP THE WEDDING (Argo 5418)(a-side)(BB Pop 34/1962; BB R&B 6/1962; CB Pop 22/1962; RW Pop 29/1962)(July 1962)
17 HOW DO YOU SPEAK TO AN ANGEL (Argo 5430)(b-side, December 1962)(BB Pop 109/1963; CB Pop 146/1962)*double sided hit; stereo.
18 BE HONEST WITH ME (Argo 5445)(b-side, July 1963)(RW Pop 134/1963)*double sided hit; rare gem; CD debut.
19 PAY BACK (Argo 5445)(a-side)(BB Pop 78/1963; CB Pop 91/1963; RW Pop 75/1963)(July 1963)*stereo
20 LOVER MAN (OH, WHERE CAN YOU BE)*previously unreleased; stereo
21 TWO SIDES (TO EVERY STORY)(Argo 5452)(a-side)(BB Pop 63/1963; BB AC 16/1963; CB Pop 90/1963; RW Pop 71/1963)(September 1963)*stereo
22 TOMORROW NIGHT*previously unreleased; stereo
23 I CAN’T HOLD IT IN ANYMORE (Argo 5437)(b-side, March 1963)
1 This is a first class CD with the original album making its CD debut in stereo. In addition, there are 13 more bonus tracks, with a few rare b-sides and 4 previously unreleased tracks, all making their CD debut. A few tracks are also in stereo.
2 The sound is wonderfully remastered.
3 There is also a first class 12-page booklet, with an informative essay by Garth Cartwright. But best of all are 15 colourful singles labels and 2 album labels, plus picture sleeves and posters. Labels and numbers are included. As far as booklet is concerned, Ace Records has the best booklet, even better than Real Gone Music (US). Jasmine Records and Sepia Records, are you listening?
1 No chart position was provided.
2 Misspelling of song title: should be “I Worry ‘Bout You” instead of “I Worry About You” You can confirm this by looking at the singles label for this song in the booklet.
Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins on January 25, 1938 in Los Angeles, California. She was nicknamed “Miss Peaches.” She has a long illustrious career. Her singing style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel. She has frequent bouts of heroin addiction, but finally cured in the late 1970s. In 1996, her album “Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday” won Best Jazz Vocal Performance Grammy. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2008. She died of leukemia on January 20, 2012 (age 74). Her mighty, moving voice is sorely missed.
After collecting all her 123 songs (as singles, except one song “Bring It on Home to Me” her duet with Tony Orlando), I am in the process of collecting all her domestic albums. “Queen of Soul” is her 9th album release, following “Etta James Rocks the House.” The entire album, with great sound and many hit singles and rare gems, is totally enjoyable, and will be treasured. Naturally this set is highly recommended.