This is an essential compilation of some of Esther's most important albums, plus previously released bonus material! There simply was no one else like Esther: that special voice, that look...that hypnotic talent. Undoubtedly acquired taste, she stamped her patent sound on every song, making them her own, and making us want to play them again and again. Sadly, Esther, like Whitney, suffered substance misuse issues, resulting in both performers leaving us far too early, aged only 47 and 48, respectively. Whitney's public struggles tarnished her latter work, but Esther retained her characteristically gritty abilities to the tragic end. I'm not ashamed to admit that I stood in a London news agent and shed a tear on reading about Esther's passing. She was well worthy of my tears, and my cash - so back to this CD. There are too many highlights here, but I am particularly taken by Living Alone, Baby I'm For Real, Home is Where The Hatred Is, I've Only Known A Stranger, I've Never Found A Man, Do Right Woman, Brother Brother, Can't Trust Your Neighbor, and I Can Stand A Little Rain. But I love everything else here too, I really do.
I met Whitney in her happier days, and even saw a fragile Ella do her thing in London in the 80s. Last month I saw Marlena Shaw at Ronnie Scott's and was mindful that she was perhaps one of the last surviving female greats of the jazz genre. It was more than a treat to share some quality time with her after her amazing show. Meeting Esther would have been an absolute dream come true, but it wasn't to be. At least we can continue to enjoy her music and personality through this brilliant 4 album/double CD. My ears and heart are very happy indeed.
Dearest Esther, what a wonderful, wonderful difference you made. Love from us all.
(Vernal Scott, author of the non-fiction book, God's Other Children - A London Memoir)