You'll see Etta James in a series of performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival, from her first European appearance (with a stylish big 'fro) to her triumphant 1993 concert, in the new DVD Etta James Live at Montreux, 1993. Visually, it's a slightly uneven release (the early footage hasn't been restored), but James's performances shine through. The earliest set is from 1975 and includes "Drown in My Own Tears," "I'd Rather Go Blind," and a funky "Respect Yourself." The 1977 set includes a medley of "At Last," (the only version of her signature tune on the disc), "Trust in Me," and "A Sunday Kind of Love."
One of the disc's highlights is a 1978 performance of "Take It to the Limit," with James injecting the tune with an extra sense of melancholy. A couple of other segments include "Tell Mama," and "Sugar on the Floor."
But it's the 1993 performance that's the focus of the disc, with 11 tunes in the set, including "Hold On, I'm Coming," and "I Just Want to Make Love to You," among others. There's also a second version of "I'd Rather Go Blind." The difference between her 1975 rendition and one 18 years later is subtle, but speaks to her natural talent and hard earned performing experience.
We wish there was a full performance of "At Last" on the disc, but even in its abbreviated version, it's easy to see that James's version is untouchable. When she launches into that opening phrase, "At last/My love has come along" it's as if the world stops spinning.
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