A pair of late albums from Esther Phillips for Mercury – capping off the 70s with Here's Esher – Are You Ready and picking up in '81 with Good Black Is Hard To Crack – back-to-back! Are You Ready is a sweet groover – done in a style that's much more club-oriented than before, but which we find ourselves liking quite a lot! Given that Esther had explored other modes quite thoroughly on other 60s and 70s sessions, the change here is actually a nice one – and the overall presentation is handled with a good sense of class and poise by Harvey Mason, who produced the session, and gives
the record a sound that's hip enough to make it work. Esther sound especially great on the album's sweet stepper "Bedtime Stories", but other cuts are nice too – and titles include "Our Day Will Come", "Oo Oop Oo Oop", "Love Makes A Woman", "Mr Melody", and "I'll Close My Eyes". Titles include "Crazy", "Reaching Out For Love With Love", "Cry To Me", "Pull Yourself Together", "We've Got A Good Thing Going On", "Changin'" and more. Good Black Is Hard To Crack is her swan song for Mercury, and features tunes in a number of modes. Material ranges from a laid back early 80s soul reading of "Crazy", to more stripped down clubby soul on par with the previous album, to more modern groovers. Produced by Benny Golson. Other titles include "Reaching Out For Love With Love", "Cry To Me", "Pull Yourself Together", "We've Got A Good Thing Going On", "Changin'" and more.