The Complete Ann Peebles On Hi Records, Vol. 1 contains her first four albums, as well as the additional B-sides up to 1974, and contains much of her best work. To find them collected and complete on just two CDs at a reasonable price should make it an irresistible first stop for anyone wishing to add some of Ann Peebles work to their collection on CD.
Ann Peebles of course continues to this day to be an important artist, and Volume 2 and beyond are recommended subsequent purchases, but for sheer quantity of gems, such as I Can't Stand The Rain, Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home, I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, I Pity The Fool, (You Keep Me) Hangin' On and A Love Vibration, all hit singles, this obviously is the place to start, and naturally you get to hear the albums as they were meant to be heard as well as two B-sides that did not appear on albums. Ann Peebles' third album, Part Time Love, named after her hit version of the Little Johnny Taylor track, is an exception to this at it was largely a repackaging of previously released material, and the duplicated tracks are not repeated, but the four new tracks complete disc one, following This Is Ann Peebles. This was her debut album and contains far less original material than her other albums. However I have no complaint at hearing Ann Peebles singing Bettye Swann, Fontella Bass, Aretha Franklin or the untypically funky Isley Brothers hit It's Your Thing.
Disc two is essentially Straight From The Heart, a title that sums up Ann Peebles vocal style, and her fourth album, I Can't Stand The Rain. Both contain a number of songs written by Ann and her partner Don Bryant, and some by Hi staff writer Earl Randle.
All the tracks were recorded at the Royal Recording Studios in Memphis, produced, engineered and arranged by Willie Mitchell, and hugely benefit from the combined forces of the Hi Records studio band, the Memphis Horns, the Memphis Strings and the backing vocals of Rhodes, Chalmers and Rhodes; the same team of course that created those great Al Green sides.
Mastering is very good considering the age of the masters and stereo album mixes have been used throughout, with the strange exception of I've Been There Before. This was also the B-side of Somebody's On Your Case, so possibly the mono single mix has been used in error, as the stereo mix has turned up on previous CD pressings that include the album Straight From The Heart. Both the non-album B-sides, Heartaches Heartaches and I Can't Let Go, are also mono, presumably because they were never mixed into stereo.