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Down in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Atlantic Records' Jerry Wexler had fallen out with Rick Hall at FAME studio after an Aretha Franklin session ended with Aretha storming back to New York. Wexler later set up the Muscle Shoals session guys in their own studio, Muscle Shoals Sound. Furious at the betrayal, Hall went to see Atlantic's arch-rival, Chess Records, and persuaded Leonard Chess to bring his top soul acts to FAME. As a result, between August and December 1967, Chess's Etta James, recorded her greatest album, Tell Mama, at FAME.
Etta's career had faltered, and it took the Muscle Shoals sessions to bring her back. The LP's title track as well as Otis Redding's "Security" became Top 40 hits and Top 20 R&B hits for Etta, but it was the B-side of the "Tell Mama" single, the original version of the blues classic "I'd Rather Go Blind" that would become the LP's most enduring cut. "I'd Rather Go Blind" was written by Etta's friend, Fugi Foster, who handed it to her when she went to see him in prison. Although never a charted hit for Etta, the song has been recorded hundreds of times by artists as diverse as Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, Paolo Nutini, Mick Hucknall, and the Allman Brothers.
Easily one of the best albums of her long career Etta James' Tell Mama is now being reissued on limited edition colored vinyl in glorious mono courtesy of 4 Men With Beards!