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2011 has 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 give us 24 elusive tracks on Chess and Cadet Records spanning 1961 to 1976 - whilst 31 October saw the first official release on CD of "Call My Name" - a criminally forgotten Cadet Records LP from 1967. I've reviewed both of them. And now this - another exclusive! A first-time-on-CD outing for a rare vinyl LP from 1970 with copious amounts of bonus tracks relevant to the period. Here are the details...
UK released Monday 31 Oct 2011 - Ace Records/Kent Soul CDKEND 361 breaks down as follows (74:57 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 11 are the Stereo LP "Losers Weepers" - released December 1970 in the USA on Cadet Records LPS-847
Track 12 is "The Love Of My Man" - a 1970 USA 7" single on Chess 2100 [A]
Tracks 13 to 17 are "Tighten Up Your Own Thing", "Quick Reaction And Satisfied", "Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing", "Sound Of Love" and "The Man I Love" are all from the album "Funk" - released January 1970 in the USA on Cadet Records LPS-847
Track 18 is "I Found A Love" - a 1972 USA 7" single on Chess 2125 [A]
Tracks 19 and 20 are "W.O.M.A.N." and "Tell It Like It Is" - are the A&B Sides of a 1972 USA 7" single on Chess 2128
Track 21 is "Never My Love" - a 1973 recording Previously Unreleased until the 2000 3CD set "The Chess Box"
Track 22 is "I Never Meant To Love Him" - a 1973 recording Previously Unreleased until the 1993 2CD set "The Essential Etta James"
[Note: Tracks 12, 14, 17 to 20 are MONO - all others are STEREO]
This CD release will allow fans to sequence almost all of the 7 x 7" singles released off and around the 2 x 1970 albums - "Losers Weepers" and "Funk":
1. Tighten Up Your Own Thing  b/w What Fools We Mortals Be [Not on here] on Cadet 5664 (1970)
2. Sound Of Love  b/w When I Stop Dreaming [Not on here] on Cadet 5671 (1970)
3. Losers Weepers  b/w Weepers  on Cadet 5676 (November 1970)
4. The Love Of My Man  b/w Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing  on Chess CH 2100 (1971)
5. I Think It's You  b/w Take Out Some Insurance  on Chess CH 2112 (1971)
6. I Found A Love  b/w Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing  on Chess CH 2125 (May 1972)
7. W.O.M.A.N.  b/w Tell It Like It Is  on Chess CH 2128 (1972)
The first thing that hits you is the GORGEOUS SOUND QUALITY. Remastered by DUNCAN COWELL at Sound Mastering in London - I've sung this engineer's praises before - but again - he's outdone himself here. There's amazing clarity on every song - clean Stereo separation too and a huge presence on instruments - especially the brass and percussion. It's a blast from start to finish. The 12-page colour booklet is crammed with photos of 7" singles (most of the titles listed above), Cash Box magazine adverts and reviews from December 1970 - as well as a superbly detailed set of liner notes by noted writer and Soul lover DENNIS GARVEY. Like it's predecessor ("Call My Name" on CDKEND 360) - this is a typically classy effort...
Highlights for me are the slow Soul of "I Think It's You" and the cover of the Jackie Edwards nugget "Look At The Rain". It's also cool to get 5 tracks off the rare "Funk" album - especially the zippy 'message' soul of "Tighten Up Your Own Thing" (lyrics above). The bluesy "Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing" is hardly 'funk', but it's a proper Soul gem. An organ-led slowy, it's a pleader written by Johnny Morrisette and hardly surprising it got used as a 45-side - twice. The cover of The Bee Gees "Sound Of Love" is the only real clunker for me - it feels a little forced and too melodramatic - a little too pop for Etta. But the non-album single "W.O.M.A.N." is fab sexy Soul - even in Mono. At seventy-five minutes, there are loads of goodies on here...plenty to satisfy.
To sum up - once again Ace Records have delivered on all fronts - keeping the great lady's recorded legacy alive for future generations to savour and enjoy. A job well done.