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Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions

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Etta James 4/24/2001

Review

As the title suggests, this is the definitive edition of Etta James' Tell Mama long-player. For this single-disc release the original album is augmented with five previously unissued tracks -- documented during James' four Muscle Shoals sessions circa '67-'68. The question of why a rural Alabama town became a conduit for some of the most memorable and instantly identifiable grooves may still be up for debate. The evidence exists in droves and Tell Mama could certainly be considered exhibit A. These sessions feature the same impact that would redirect several first ladies of soul. Notable among them are Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis, Aretha Franklin's I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) and to somewhat lesser acclaim, Jackie DeShannon's Jackie. Tell Mama showcases some of the unique and admittedly darker qualities of what might best be described as R&B noir. "I'd Rather Go Blind," "Steal Away," "I'm Gonna Take What He's Got" all exemplify the essence of the blues -- making the best of a bad situation. The flipside of the sombre subject matter is the satisfying conviction in the music -- which is where the remastering becomes particularly noticeable. No longer does the brass section sound alternately muffled or harsh as it has on previous releases. Likewise, the churning Hammond B-3 organ swells with rich textures. Perhaps the most sonically evident improvements are the subtle ones, such as the supple fretwork on "Sweet Dreams," "I'd Rather Go Blind," and the jazzy percussive shuffle of "The Same Rope." ~ Lindsay Planer
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Tell Mama Etta James 2:20
  3. 2 I'd Rather Go Blind Etta James 2:32
  4. 3 Watch Dog Etta James 2:5
  5. 4 The Love of My Man Etta James 2:38
  6. 5 I'm Gonna Take What He's Got Etta James 2:32
  7. 6 The Same Rope Etta James 2:37
  8. 7 Security Etta James 2:26
  9. 8 Steal Away Etta James 2:18
  10. 9 My Mother in Law Etta James 2:19
  11. 10 Don't Lose Your Good Thing Etta James 2:24
  12. 11 It Hurts Me So Much Etta James 2:32
  13. 12 Just a Little Bit Etta James 2:4
  14. 13 Do Right Woman, Do Right Man Etta James 2:57
  15. 14 You Took It Etta James 2:35
  16. 15 I Worship the Ground You Walk On Etta James 2:23
  17. 16 I Got You Babe Etta James 2:25
  18. 17 You Got It Etta James 2:23
  19. 18 I've Gone Too Far [Previously Unreleased] Etta James 2:18
  20. 19 Misty [Previously Unreleased] Etta James 3:11
  21. 20 Almost Persuaded Etta James 3:19
  22. 21 Fire Etta James 2:21
  23. 22 Do Right Woman, Do Right Man [Alternate Take][Previously Unreleased] Etta James 2:58

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