Review: Etta James Live at Montreux 1973

I wish Janis Joplin were sitting next to me to help with the comments on this extraordinary Etta James disc. When a powerhouse like Etta interprets The Eagles and makes them listenable, achieving what mere humans believe to be impossible, you know those vocal chords and that spirit were touched by the hand of God. Live At Montreux 1993 gives the 1993 concert plus bonus tracks from 1975, 1977, 1989 and is a delightfully delicious smorgasbord of the master’s classics and more.

“Take It To The Limit” goes from the slow Eagles ballad to a bountiful blues number that would have been preferable on pop radio. Four years after the Staple Singers had a 1971 hit with “Respect Yourself” it got Ettazized – and a testament to the hard-working performer is how consistent her voice is across the decades, 70s, 80s and 90s all providing a perfect picture of Ms. James ability to communicate material in a way foreign to the multitude of lesser talents.

“Sugar on the Floor” was the flip side of Elton John’s 1975 45 RPM “Island Girl”, a Kiki Dee composition from her 1973 album “Loving and Free” (see my review on In Etta’s hands it is absolutely amazing, and something Kiki has got to be very proud of.

“Tell Mama”, a terrific Cadet single from Etta – re-established by Janis Joplin on her final concert tour which included the now-famous Festival Express – is re-worked here along with the 1967 flip side to that treasure, “I’d Rather Go Blind” (Cadet #5578 for you completists! I’ve got my copy). Etta-heads everywhere will adore each and every track, and it brings back the glorious memories for those of us lucky enough to have seen her in concert.

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for,, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.