Etta James

Losers Weepers

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Although the 1970 album Losers Weepers was not a landmark in Etta James' career, and doesn't include any of her most famous or outstanding tracks, it's a solid enough album that has an edge on some of the other LPs from the later part of her time with Chess Records. To its credit, it doesn't seem to be trying as hard or self-consciously to absorb some influences from contemporary soul trends; largely, it lets James do what she does best: give romantic songs everything she's got, without holding back on some of her grittiest phrasing and throatiest belting. Were the material up to her vocal finesse, this would be up there with the likes of what Aretha Franklin was doing at the time. It's not, but the songs are OK vehicles for her tense and frustrated takes on love. The title track gave her a small R&B hit, and is certainly the best song here. If it's a little reminiscent of her own "I'd Rather Go Blind" in the verse, the jubilant, ascending chorus sets it off as a worthwhile tune on its own merits (and the next track, "Weepers," is a "part two" of sorts that also served as the B-side). It's a satisfying mix of ballads and more uptempo cuts (like "Look at the Rain," written by Jackie Edwards, famous for writing early hits for the Spencer Davis Group), also putting some pop into the arrangements and melodies alongside the expected soul.