Etta James and the Roots Band

Burnin' Down the House

RCA/Private Music

Etta James, vocals; Donto James, drums; Sametto, bass; Luis Conti, percussion; David Mathews, keyboards; Mike Finnegan, Hammond B3 organ; Bobby Murray, guitar; Josh Sklar, guitar; Lee Thornburg, trombone; Ronnie Buttacavoli, trumpet; Tom Poole, trumpet; Jimmy Zavala, tenor sax; David Woodford, baritone sax.

This is a live recording done at the Los Angeles House of Blues and is scheduled for release May 7, 2002. It was also visually recorded for release as a DVD later in the year.

"Come to Mama" opens with a lush, big band arrangement quickly moving to a scorching guitar introduction to the soulful vocals of Etta James. "I Just Want to Make Love to You/Born to Be Wild" depicts James in the role of the hardened blues babe and no one does it better. James wrote the tune "I'd Rather Go Blind" and it is a tearjerker. "All the Way Down" is an entertaining disco rendering. "At Last" reveals the romantic side of James, while "You Can Leave Your Hat On" displays the raunchy side.

The medley of "Love & Happiness/Take Me to the River/My Funny Valentine" is a knockout version. James was quoted as saying that "Sugar on the Floor" is her favorite of all the songs and on this tune she evokes an aching vulnerability.

All of the cuts on this CD are well-known to fans who have seen James perform live and listening to this offering rekindles those memories. This CD captures the quintessence blues of Etta James. The Roots Band is well-seasoned and set a tight space with sparse solos, is all about Etta and we could not ask for a better blues representation from one who has experienced it and shares it with us in every nuance and note.

by Dorothy Hill

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