Etta James

Etta James

Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions

MCA/Chess

No disrespect to Aretha, but after hearing this, I’m convinced that the only reason Miss Franklin is now known as the Queen of Soul is because bigger Atlantic Records stole the title that Chess had previously bestowed on Etta James. Etta is fierier than Franklin, like a cross between her and Little Eva. Etta covers similar lyrical ground, too, answering Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” with “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.” And with the Muscle Shoals musicians backing her, James is at the top of her game here. If you like classic soul music, it does not get better than this. Period.

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