Choice Cuts: Etta James – At Last!

Argo Records, 1960Etta James, The Chess box, by Jazz Guy (752x423)Listening to Etta James can bring you as close as it’s possible to get to heaven without leaving your physical body behind you. Take the title track of her phenomenal debut album, At Last!: when James’s pure voice rises in perfect concert with the nuzzling strings, it’s as if flowers have spontaneously sprung into bloom, the clouds have parted and, for three glorious minutes, all is well with the world. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: Otis Redding – Blue Otis

Stax Records, 1965
Otis Redding banner, Apr 3, 2014, by Bill Lile (800x450)Had Otis Redding and his band not been tragically killed in 1967, we can only imagine what head-spinning music they would have made. It’s been said that if Otis and company had let go of their ethos for playing every single show they were booked for, they might have kept their feet on the ground, instead of boarding a plane bound for the storm that claimed their lives. We can’t know that. Their tireless work ethic and commitment to audiences brought about stacks of stirring soul that’s among the greatest examples of music full stop, as this week’s Choice Cut makes clear. Continue reading