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Album Review

Listeners looking for an overview of Little Esther's Federal period will find it on the 2005 Collectibles release Best of Little Esther. But for a slightly more in-depth look there are two separate compilations on Classics R&B, 2003's 1951-1952 and 2005's 1952-1953. Both find Esther in her jump blues/slow-burn belter phase, before she changed her name to Esther Phillips and explored genres like country-blues and soul. Though neither collection includes her earlier work for Savoy (for whom she recorded some hit singles), stuff like the Johnny Otis collaborations "Crying Blues" and "Hold Me" (both on 1951) or 1952's barreling "Hollerin' and Screamin'" and "Saturday Night Daddy" and the duet with Little Willie, "Turn the Lamps Down Low," show Esther in fun, fiery form.


Born: 23 December 1935 in Galveston, TX

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Esther Phillips was perhaps too versatile for her own good, at least commercially speaking; while she was adept at singing blues, early R&B, gritty soul, jazz, straight-up pop, disco, and even country, her record companies often lacked a clear idea of how to market her, which prevented her from reaching as wide an audience as she otherwise might have. An acquired taste for some, Phillips' voice had an idiosyncratic, nasal quality that often earned comparisons to Nina Simone, although she herself...
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Top Albums and Songs by Little Esther Phillips

1952-1953, Little Esther Phillips
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