The James Gang: Houston's Leela Updates the Great Etta

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"Loving You More": "It turned out to be a groovy, uptempo dance record that just feels good, it's commercial radio-friendly. It sounds nothing like the original, but it's still in the spirit of Etta. It still has a groove.

"Something's Got a Hold on Me": "This is another one of my favorites, only because it was one of her uptempo dance-type records, and we kind of continued in that spirit and made it fun and funky and groovy and modern for today.

"It Hurts Me So Much": "The original is more soul. We took it and sped it up and gave it something completely different, more of a hip-hop twist with some West Coast flavor on there. That one was really fun. It was like, 'Wow you took an Etta James record and gave this gangsta boogie-type of vibe to it. It sounds so fresh and cool - people that hear it can't even believe it's an Etta record. That's the point."

"At Last/I'd Rather Go Blind": "Those are favorites of mine, mainly because those are records you've probably heard a thousand times over, and that's what's normally associated with her. We took them and created duets. Shannon Sanders was singing on there with me, and I think it came out real cool. It took the songs from one extreme to another, so they pretty much sound the opposite of what the originals were."

"I Want to Ta-Ta You Baby": "That's another one I enjoyed. It has a nice little vibe about that one."

Loving You More is out today on Shanachie Entertainment.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray