Album: Etta James, The Dreamer (Decca)


Assailed by the double debilitations of leukemia and dementia, and requiring hospital care, Etta James has sensibly decided that The Dreamer will constitute the final chapter of her recording career.

And as a swansong, it's as fine as might be expected given the circumstances: there's an aptly valedictory tone to the brooding, brassy covers of Ray Charles's "In the Evening" and Little Milton's "Let Me Down Easy", although the hookline to Johnny Guitar Watson's "Too Tired" – "I'm too tired for anything" – is belied by the loping swing of the groove. And although James's faltering vocals on the itchy Memphis R&B version of "Groove Me" betray her weakening powers, she brings a salty panache to the most surprising cut here, a fatback swamp-funk treatment of Guns N'Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle".

DOWNLOAD THIS Welcome to the Jungle; Dreamer; Too Tired