Etta James

Time After Time/Blue Gardenia

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Because of her blues-based comeback in the '90s, Etta James is usually thought of by the general public -- if she's thought of at all -- as a blues singer, but there's a good deal more to the picture than that, and she is equally at home singing gospel, R&B, soul, jazz, pure pop, and even rock & roll. This two-disc set combines 1995's Blue Gardenia with 2001's Time After Time in one inspired package, since both albums feature James in a jazz mode. There's so much to like here, including Blue Gardenia's "These Foolish Things" and James' restructuring of "Cry Me a River," and Time After Time's masterful "Don't Go to Strangers" and redemptive turn at the old classic "Willow Weep for Me," providing ample evidence that James has long been one of the best singers of her generation -- in any style.

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