Etta James

Greatest Gospel Hits, Vol. 1

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This is a hard combination to beat -- one of the world's best-loved female blues singers going wild on some of its favorite gospel tunes. All of them have been recorded before, but six of the tracks here are re-recordings. Fans who want lots of James' intimate, guttural intensity might be a bit disappointed because she's functioning more as a choir leader here, and she's enhanced on each track by a happy choir who gladly echoes her. Still, she shines on the solo passages as best as the arrangements will allow. Be prepared for some serious handclapping, from the opening choral arrangement of "Amen/This Little Light of Mine" through "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" and the lesser-known but no-less-joyous "Oh Happy Day."

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