Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hot Summer Nights

Billie Holiday is one of those artists I can listen to in just about any mood, place or setting and the music seems right although a slow, hot summer night seems perfect for listening to Lady Day. That is even more so the case with with Etta James' 1994 Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday which is perfect hot summer night kind of music. Hat tip goes to James' biographer David Ritz who according to liner notes gets credit for the album idea, but it is Cedar Walton's slow, bluesy arrangements and James' deep, sultry voice that makes this a must have.

Sure there is all kinds of history here about James' and her mother (who loved Holiday) but the real bottom line here is sex. This disc is dripping with it. Okay, there is plenty of sadness, remorse and tragedy as well--she is a blues singer after all--but it is truly one seductive album. James takes songs like "Lover Man" and sings those lyrics in a way that, well, makes uptight, Protestant boys feel like they have sinned just listening to her . . . . but it is so worth it.

1 comment:

Chris Diller said...

Hey Mate,

Don't forget the late great Red Holloway on the album. AMG gave it three stars--go figure--still, indeliable SLC memories. Her follow up Time after Time never hit that sweet spot for me.