Home Read Classic Album Review: Etta James | Matriarch of the Blues

Classic Album Review: Etta James | Matriarch of the Blues

The Matriarch of the Blues makes a play to become the Queen of Classic Rock too.


This album came out back in 2001. Here’s what I said about it then (with some minor editing):


Coming from most singers, the title Matriarch of the Blues would be quite the boast. From Etta James, it’s just a statement of fact.

And it’s just the beginning — on this dozen-song set, Miss Etta aims to expand her musical realm to include rock ’n’ roll. Which means that in addition to the expected 12-bar workouts, she turns her big, boisterous voice to an intriguing set list of ’60s and ’70s classics. Like, say Bob Dylan’s Gotta Serve Somebody, which she serves up with a sizzling horn groove; The StonesMiss You, delivered in a slow blues shuffle; CCR’s Born on the Bayou, revived with a neck-snapping funkiness; and Hound Dog, which is way closer to barking up Big Mama’s Thornton’s tree than Elvis’s. The rest of the disc, which favours Memphis soul standards like Try a Little Tenderness, Rhymes and Come Back Baby, isn’t nearly as innovative or interesting. She may be Matriarch of the Blues, but if she keeps this up, she could end up being the Queen of Classic Rock, too.