This 18-track compilation focuses on Etta James' earliest sessions recorded for Modern Records between 1954 and 1958. James was only 16 years old when she first recorded for the L.A.-based label. Her youthful exuberance and powerhouse delivery still generate that initial excitement captured on these remastered versions of "Dance With Me Henry," "The Pick-Up," "W-O-M-A-N," and "Good Rockin' Daddy." Appearing with James on these tracks were the cream of L.A.'s R&B and jazz musicians and arrangers of the era, including Johnny Otis, Richard Berry, Sam "The Man" Taylor, and Plas Johnson, not to mention the New Orleans powerhouse lineup of Lee Allen, Red Tyler, and Earl Palmer on "Tough Lover." Compiled and produced by music historian Billy Vera, this set is a great introduction to Etta James' early raw recordings.
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AllMusic Review by Al Campbell