on 5 January 2010
This early 70's CTI album is a timeless piece of sophisticated and superbly produced soul-funk. Esthers' heart wrenching vocals backed by a killer horn and string arrangement with contributing musicians Eric Gale, Airto Moreira, Cornell Dupree and the evergreen Bernard Purdie on drums (most recorded session drummer still playing now at 70) this is a stunning non-commercial album and like many produced by these musicians at that time on the CTI Kudu label, were probably unaware of their timeless depth and quality. The track 'Home is Where the Hatred is' is a searing piece of music that would not have been out of place on the film score for American Gangster, sadly Esther had drug addictions that ended her life at 48 but thankfully her emotion only adds to the intensity of this music.
Yep, it's short on running time, the sleevenotes are in Japanese, and they manage to mis-spell one of the titles in English....BUT, for anyone who loves the sultry jazzy soul that Esther Phillips was serving up during her time with Kudu records, this is an absolute must have. A look at the musicians also provides an idea of the quality of what happens, with Hank Crawford on Tenor Sax, Richard Tee on organ and piano and Eric Gale on guitar (to name but three of them) with arrangements by Pee Wee Ellis, this is a quality album with some compelling vocal performances.There are two stunning Allen Toussaint songs - the title track and "Sweet Touch of Love",together with the Gil Scott-Heron composed "Home is where the hatred is, and the Marvin and Anna Gaye song ""Baby I'm for real". Actually there isn't a weak choice in the set with my absolute favourite being "That's all right with me". Which really leads on to 'the voice' because the album found Esther Phillips cutting loose from the rather patchy Atlantic Years to put her own imprint on each and everyone of the songs she tackles. The expression is "you pay your money and you take your choice" and for me despite those perceived shortcomings mentioned above this is firmly in the "ought to have at any price" category. Highly recommended (and moving towards being essentially 'must have')