Throughout her legendary career, the late Etta James made many appearances at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Her 1993 appearance showed that even more than three decades into her career, she had lost none of her swagger. This performance is captured on the Blu-ray, Etta James – Live At Montreux 1993.
The show opens with a song that lives up to its name – the instrumental “Funky Good Time.” A slinky blues workout, the song is punctuated by the horns of Kraig Kilby on trombone and Ronnie Buttacavoli on trumpet. A second instrumental follows, a sizzling cover of the Sam & Dave Classic, “Hold On, I’m Coming,” before James takes the stage.
James immediately commands the audience with an all-attitude version of “I Just Wanna Make Love To You.” Her version is gritty and shows she is a woman who knows what she wants. James next delivers her classic ballad, “I’d Rather Go Blind,” to great effect, offering up a soulful, gospel-tinged vocal performance.
The show wasn’t all about old songs, however. While more recent fare, the funky blues, battle of the sexes track “How Strong Is A Woman?” showed that James could still deliver strong material. James also offers a cover version of Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle” that is faithful to the original. James gives a strutting performance of this famous track.
While the 1993 performance is the main event on the Blu-ray, it also includes highlights from her 1975, 1977, 1978, 1989 and 1990 appearances at the festival. Four songs from 1975 are included, with a strong cover of “Respect Yourself” the big highlight. James gives a powerful performance, cursing and owning the stage. Keen observers will notice a young Brian Ray, now of Paul McCartney’s band, on guitar for many of these clips. James’ signature song, “At Last,” is featured in her 1977 appearance as part of a medley that also includes “Trust In Me” and “A Sunday Kind of Love.” The three tracks show the full range of James’ unique voice.
The 1993 performance is in 1080i, high definition widescreen 16x9 (1.78:1), while the other shows are in standard definition 16x9 and 4x3. Audio options include LPCM Stereo and DTS_HD Master Audio.
Etta James had a long career filled with many highs. Among the highs were her appearances at the Montreux Jazz Festival. James’ live shows were always interesting and exciting, making Live At Montreux 1993 a worthwhile addition to any fan’s collection.