Among his many observations that had a way of boring into your subconscious and never leaving, George Carlin once remarked that the Blues is the only musical form that requires absolute authenticity - "It's not enough to play the notes, you have to know why the notes need to be played." On this equally special and sadly neglected 1998 release, Etta James makes sure we know - that she knows.
During several interviews conducted around the record's release, Ms. James was very critical of the finished product that was originally conceived as a Country project but in her telling, wound up as an abortive, unfocused collection of everything - and nothing. Well, with all due respect to the artist, she couldn't be more wrong. Love's Been Tough On Me is a tough, searing and unapologetic Blues-Rock manifesto that is as far away from Nashville as Somalia is from Rodeo Drive.
Led by legendary Muscle Shoals front man Barry Beckett, every track alternately boils, simmers or steams, driven by a voice wizened and wearied by too much life and too little respect. It only takes a single listen to If I Had Any Pride left At All and I Can Give You Everything to smile at the thought of Tina Turner and Mick Jagger wishing they had gotten there first.
This is an exceptional release that proves with every listen why every note definitely needs to be played.
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