Review: The jazz and blues-focused DOL division of Moscow-based archivists Vinylogy LLC hits the jackpot once again with this sumptuous reissue of the Etta James album, At Last. Originally released back in 1961 on the Argo Records subsidiary of the iconic Chess operation out of Chicago, At Last provided James with a wealth of chart hits, not least the title track and "All I Could Do Was Cry" which was co-written by future Motown mogul Berry Gordy. It's for this fact and more that musical historians regard this album as an important footnote in the development of Rhythm & Blues. Great work as usual from the DOL crew - do check their other reissues of Chet Baker and Nina Simone that dropped this week.
Review: Before finding fame as funk's most famous exponent, James Brown traveled the United States performing rhythm and blues with backing band the Famous Flames. The group eventually secured a recording contract in the late 1950s, going on to have a number of hits on the rhythm and blues chart in the early '60s. This slightly re-jigged reissue of 1963 compilation Shout & Shimmy - itself a re-branded version of 1962's Good, Good, Twistin' - boasts some of the group's most potent work, including the rip-roaring title track, killer dancefloor workout "Hold It" and the melancholic R&B shuffler "Don't Let It Happen To Me". While the music is of course notably different to Brown's later work, he's still at his impassioned vocal best.