A pair of 70s gems from Esther Phillips – back to back on a single CD! Black Eyed-Blues is one of Esther's strong winners for Kudu
– a record that takes her soulful style of earlier years, and wraps it around some sly 70s funky arrangements! Ex-James Brown hornman Pee Wee Ellis arranged the album, and gave Esther a nice little dose of funk that really helped her groove – getting out of the sad bag of her Atlantic recordings, and sounding hipper than anyone would have expected! The record features the great slow funk groover "Black Eyed Blues" – and other tracks include "I've Only Known A Stranger", "You Could Have Had Me, Baby", and "Too Many Roads". CD also features the bonus track "Tangle In Your Lifeline", previously unissued! Capricorn Princess is a pretty amazing, and too long overlooked set from Esther Phillips – her final album for Kudu
– and a beautiful mix of soaring soul sounds from one the most unique, emotionally-inflected soul vocalists of her era! Esther's in prime Kudu
mode here – working with jazzy arrangements by David Matthews and Pee Wee Ellis, adding her unique, grit-inflected soul chanteuse vocals to a smoother mix of instrumentation that creates a perfect counterpoint that took her way past her earlier work! There's also a couple of really sweet disco skewed numbers that work incredibly well – with spacier bits of synth and a dancefloor soul bed of percussion and rhythms – and in general, the arrangements are pretty great from track-to-track! Players include Randy Brecker and Mike Brecker on trumpet and tenor sax, Bray Miles on synthesizer, Bobby Lyle on clavinet, Eric Gale on guitar, Joe Farrell on tenor sax and alto flute, percussionist Ralph MacDonald and other excellent name musicians and others bring a grand sweep and sweeter intimacy when the mood requires. Titles include "Magic's In The Air", "A Beautiful Friendship", "Boy, I Really Tied One On", "Higher & Higher", and "All The Way Down".