It is widely accepted among fans and blues mavens alike that 1993 was a peak Etta year.
So Live at Montreux 1993 (the DVD/Blu-ray) and Live at Montreux 1975-1993 (the CD) crash open with scorching, shock-and-awe performances of “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” “I’d Rather Go Blind,” “How Strong is a Woman?” and “A Lover is Forever” that schools the novice fast. You couldn’t generate this much heat ‘n wattage from a thousand American Idols.
That James had lost some of her supple high range by this time is no small secret, but her intensity and growl are unrepentant. Besides, that soaring gospel reigns wild with the late 70’s performances “Dust My Broom,” “Respect Yourself” (’75) and the staggering ’77 medley “At Last/Trust In Me/A Sunday Kind of Love” (available on all three formats). Though one could say the ’93 backing band was a tad too slick, (especially compared to the 70’s bands), Etta the Great brings her full game—the greatest game of all. (Product note: the CD offers only 11 tracks, and the DVD/Blu-ray offers 23.)
– Mike Jurkovic