After 7 albums with Kudu, Esther Phillips signed a new deal with Mercury records, which gave her greater freedom with choice of material and more autonomy in arrangement. The Soul Music label has done a fantastic job in re-releasing this material and making it available on two CD's. "You've come a long way,Baby" sticks pretty much to the style that she had developed whilst with her previous label, indeed the arrangements were by long time musical director Pee Wee Ellis, although it continues further into the disco dynamic that she had been developing during her live shows.There is greater diversity of sources as well, including not only two fairly straight ahaed blues tracks, but also material from Van Morrison and Denise La Salle.It's a well produced and almost seamless progression from the Kudu years, and the voice is in excellent shape. "All about Esther Phillips" is a progression from the first album, she brought in Wayne Henderson from the Crusaders to arrange, and the album shows a greater sense of 'jazz feel' than had hitherto been the case with her recording career, and alongside the more ordinary fare ("Native New Yorker") for example there are some excursions into jazz tinged soul on tracks like "Pie in the Sky" and "There you go again". The whole package is an excellent example of a performer in transition. In addition there is a bonus of the extended version of "My prayer", which I don't think has ever been released before.In all the CD represents great value, and although they were never huge sellers for Mercury it's great to have more material available from an over overlooked star who had a unique voice. Snap it up!
on 19 January 2011
As a huge fan of Esther Phillips, I was so glad when Mercury decided to issue the four albums that she made with them..and even more delighted when they issued them as '2 on 1'
These Mercury recordings were, in my opinion, as good as - if not better than her Kudu recordings. Some Esther fans may disagree, but I love the super musical arrangements of these recordings. Some good quality material all delivered in her unique style.
'YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY; Nine quality tracks - a mixture of disco, soul & blues, with a couple of ballads thrown in. There is a bonus track - a nine minute version of 'My Prayer'.
ALL ABOUT ESTHER; I love this album even more than the previous one. There is not a bad track on the whole compilation...A must for Esther fans.