Why is Etta James’ At Last! on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Spanning elegant, gorgeous pop, soul, and down and dirty blues in the best kind of way.
Some stats & info about Etta James – At Last!
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Blues, R&B, Soul, Martini Lounge, Pop Music
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #191
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
- When was At Last! released? 1960
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #959 out of 1,000
Etta James’ At Last! on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Etta James’ At Last! mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
As Nice Guy Eddie famously said in Reservoir Dogs, “First things f—ing last!” It’s one of my favorite oddball throwaway lines in filmic history, but I already digress.
At Last! is the first album on my best 1,000 albums ever list to have been officially ranked in Rolling Stones’ greatest 500 albums ranking, coming in at a very impressive #191 (and, as it turns out, this is the first album on the list to nail five out of five stars by way of All Music’s ratings system). While I don’t have it and Etta James quite that high (or low, if you can dig), there’s plenty of reasons to argue why this is a great and engrossing album.
While the title track, “At Last,” is something of a classic – and with good reason – I’m more partial to songs that move a little bit more, such as “Anything To Say You’re Mine.” It captures the pure gold of Etta James’ voice while the orchestration and rhythm section keep things moving with a little bit of swing.
Same goes for “It’s A Crying Shame,” credited to both James and Harvey Fuqua, while getting a little more down and dirty blues in the best kind of way.
And then “My Dearest Darling” is the kind of song where, when I’m heading out to a higher end lounge or restaurant of some sort (which I vaguely recall doing during either my Fargone Youth-type Days or the Before Times, though I’m really not sure at this point to be honest) I’m delighted to hear such a blessedly gorgeous tune.
Having been released in late 1960, I can’t help thinking that At Last! represents the best of the 1950s while heralding the kind of pop, soul, and blues to come in the years ahead.