Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Best of (1962-70)
Genres: Blues, Jazz, Pop, R&B
Esther Phillips was 14 when she first began hitting the R&B charts; this collection of recordings for Lenox, Atlantic, and Roulette finds her trying to maintain her success in the face of changing trends. The stylistically... more »
Esther Phillips was 14 when she first began hitting the R&B charts; this collection of recordings for Lenox, Atlantic, and Roulette finds her trying to maintain her success in the face of changing trends. The stylistically diverse material and arrangements are held together by Phillips's powerful voice and vulnerably intuitive phrasing; among the highlights are smoky covers of Beatles and Stones ballads ("And I Love Him" and "As Tears Go By," respectively), remakes of Nashville hits ("Release Me," "Am I That Easy to Forget"), the sophisticated soul of "Some Things You Never Get Used To," and the jumping "Cry Me a River Blues," with Phillips free-associating verse after verse of the American songbook from Bessie Smith to Julie London. --Rickey Wright
Fascinating Overview of an Aimless Period
Randall E. Adams | Los Angeles, CA United States | 11/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Does it even the score if Atlantic was as misguided and directionless with the great Esther Phillips as Columbia was with Aretha Franklin?The earliest work on here was recorded for independent label Lenox records under the tutelage of Kenny Rogers' brother Leland Rogers (later responsible for the 13th Floor Elevators!). This material is an excellent mix of country/soul in the style popularized by Ray Charles. If, like me, the only version of "Release Me" you have ever heard is the sappy Engelbert Humperdinck take, Esther's offering will be a revelation. Not even the terminally square Anita Kerr Singers in the background can damage this fantastic performance. However, once Atlantic got its mitts on Ms. Phillips she was put to work on lounge/supper club things with overblown showbiz backings. She's good at this material, but this is unquestionably NOT what Esther Phillips is all about. While the person writing the annotations seems to think that she transformed Lennon/MacCartney's "And I Love Him" and Jagger/Richards' "As Tears Go By," her versions sound very ill at ease. They make me want to go back and listen to "Release Me" again.Things improve dramatically with the second disc. There's a smoking sex-changed version of Percy Sledge's signature song ("When a Woman Loves a Man"), a set of timeless live cuts that finally unleash all the blues in Esther's voice, and a perfect update on the country/soul approach with Bob Dylan's "Tonight, I'll Be Staying Here With You." Ah, but by the time of this last track, Esther had moved to Roulette Records and been reunited with Lelan Rogers who obviously had not forgotten how to produce her. Along the way, Esther places her inimitable stamp on "Moody's Mood for Love" and a string of really decent late 1960's/early 1970's singles. After hearing this occasionally bewildering collection, you have to marvel at how well her musical career was taken in hand by Creed Taylor in the 1970s.The annotations are great and include some very funny stories about the woman. The sound quality is up to Rhino's usual excellent standard."
Esther's Mellow Mojo
Truth | DC | 02/23/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As the title indicates, this collection does not include her 1950's hits (as "Little Esther") or her later work on Kudu and Mercury (but contrary to the title, the songs were recorded from 1962 to 1971). The songs included are her recordings for Lennox, Atlantic, and Roulette.
This non-chronological compilation consists of mostly pop, jazz, and R&B ballads; the soulfully-funky bluesy-rock of "Mojo Hannah" is an anomaly. Includes several live recordings on second disc. Booklet includes essay by David Nathan, chart rankings, and track info. Like most compilations, this 2-disc set could have easily contained more tracks.
For those unfamiliar with Esther Phillips, her voice is a combination of Billie Holiday and an Ike-era Tina Turner, with a little bit of Dinah Washington, Ann Peebles, and Macy Gray thrown in for good measure. Her musical style is even more diverse: everything from jazz standards to country songs to pop & rock tunes by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, and Bob Dylan.
Don't buy this if looking for another Etta James or Ruth Brown or "Big Mama" Thornton or Koko Taylor or Irma Thomas. Esther is very much a transcendent recording artist - similar to Nina Simone. And don't expect to jam; be ready to groove, `cuz this is music to chill to. (For something more funky, try her 1970s recordings)
In response to music fan from LA
Sayem Osman | Washington, D.C | 10/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The title of the song you're looking for is "Home is where the Hatred Is". This song was originally done by Gil Scott Heron, but Esther's version is more powerful."