Although her first R&B hits came with Modern Records in the late 1950s, Etta James didn't hit her creative and commercial peak until she arrived at Chess Records in 1960, and she remained with the label through 1978, before moving on to track with Elektra, Island, MCA, and Verve before her death early in 2012. This set includes sides James cut with Chess in 1960 and 1961, including the entire At Last LP (the songs here are arranged chronologically as she recorded them, so the At Last album, although all the tracks are here, doesn't play in the original running order), which means such classic James performances on "All I Could Do Was Cry," "Spoonful" (a duet with Harvey Fuqua), and her signature "At Last" are collected here. At 23 tracks, this is hardly the whole James story, and it isn't even close to the whole story at Chess Records, either, for that matter, but it does spotlight James arguably at or near her peak as a recording artist, and her long stay with the Chess label would prove to be her most productive and defining period as a singer.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett