When Ace last released a vinyl LP on Etta James, the CD medium was still in its infancy, Etta’s career was on hiatus and she hadn’t put out a new album in years. Flash forward 30 years and Etta is now regarded as one of music’s most cherished icons. She staged a comeback with excellent new albums and the popularity of her classic recordings for the Modern and Chess labels increased as some began to appear in TV ad campaigns. When she died last year, Etta was more popular than she had ever been.
Etta spent most of her career with Chess; we have several exceptional CDs of her recordings for that company in the Kent catalogue. Prior to Chess, she spent four years with Modern, where she cut almost three dozen superb R&B sides; we also have all of those out on a great 2 CD set, but we felt that Etta was deserving of a good old-fashioned vinyl album as part of our new HIQLP series.
“Good Rockin’ Mama” compiles all of Etta’s best up-tempo Modern tracks into a set that will prod any dancin’ party into life, from her first single ‘The Wallflower’ (aka ‘Roll With Me Henry’) through to her final recording for the company, ‘“Baby, Baby” Every Night’. All 14 tracks are classic examples of the young Etta.
For anyone who needs further enlightenment, Etta sounds like the female Little Richard on ‘Tough Lover’ and ‘Dance With Me Henry’ (a ‘Wallflower’ remake) – both recorded in New Orleans with many of the musicians who frequently backed Richard. There’s her original take on ‘W-O-M-A-N’, which she returned to on a couple of occasions later in her career, and for lovers of TV ads everywhere, ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’ and ‘Good Rockin’ Daddy’.
It’s a safe bet that anyone who plays this hot biscuit will just flip it over and play it again from start to finish when it’s through. Not just good rockin’, but great.
By Tony Rounce
Pressed on 180g fuchsia-coloured vinyl in heavy-duty sleeve.