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SoulMusic Records is very proud to present “A Beautiful Friendship: The Kudu Anthology, 1971-1976,” a 2-CD homage to the late, great Esther Phillips drawn from the most productive and successful period of her three-and-a- half decades-long career, the five years she spent with Kudu Records, an imprint of the legendary CTI label.
Although her career began as a teenager (known as Little Esther) with the famed Johnny Otis band in 1950, it was as a multi-genre song stylist from the ‘60s to the ‘80s that Esther, with her distinctive and unique vocal style, is best remembered by soul, R&B, jazz and dance music lovers the world over.
Following her 1962 US hit ‘Release Me’, Esther spent three years with Atlantic before a stint in rehab after which she recorded briefly with Roulette Records before re-joining Atlantic for one album. Esther’s union with Kudu, created by jazz veteran Creed Taylor resulted in seven albums which form the basis for this sumptuous musically rich 2- CD set, lovingly created by SoulMusic Records’ founder David Nathan who interviewed Esther several times during the ‘70s.
Highlights include Esther’s bitingly honest reading of Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Home Is Where The Hatred Is’, which she considered one of the most challenging songs to record, given her own history with drug addiction. The track has been frequently sampled and remains one of the most amazing performances Esther gave on record.
Esther’s Kudu charted singles – from her 1975 globally successful disco-slanted revival of Dinah Washington’s ‘What A Diff’rence A Day Makes’ to covers of The Originals’ 1969 Motown hit, ‘Baby, I’m For Real’ and Eddie Floyd’s gender-switched ‘I’ve Never Found A Man (To Love Me Like You Do’) – are also featured. Two rare live recordings from a 1972 appearance at a CTI All-Stars concert at The Hollywood Bowl with five tracks from Esther’s classic 1973 “Black-Eyed Blues” LP, recorded with former members of King Crimson, are among other standouts. Extensive notes by Nathan include quotes from rock organist Tim Hinkley (who played on the album sessions) and from ‘70s interviews with Esther herself.
DISC ONE: HOME IS WHERE THE HATRED IS
1. HOME IS WHERE THE HATRED IS 2. FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM 3. THAT’S ALL RIGHT WITH ME
4. ‘TIL MY BACK AIN’T GOT NO BONE 5. BABY, I’M FOR REAL
6. SCARRED KNEES
7. HOW BLUE CAN YOU GET?
8. A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP
9. USE ME
10. I DON’T WANT TO DO WRONG
11. LET ME IN YOUR LIFE
12. I’VE NEVER FOUND A MAN (TO LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO)
13. ALONE AGAIN (NATURALLY)
14. GEORGIA ROSE
15. CHERRY RED (LIVE)
16. GOD BLESS THE CHILD (LIVE)
DISC TWO: I HAVEN’T GOT ANYTHING BETTER TO DO
2. BLACK-EYED BLUES
3. TOO MANY ROADS
4. YOU COULD HAVE HAD ME, BABY
5. TANGLE IN YOUR LIFELINE
6. CAN’T TRUST YOUR NEIGHBOR WITH YOUR BABY
7. I FEEL THE SAME
8. DISPOSABLE SOCIETY
9. WHAT A DIFF’RENCE A DAY MAKES (SINGLE EDIT)
10. YOU’RE COMING HOME
11. TURN AROUND, LOOK AT ME
12. PURE NATURAL LOVE
14. ALL THE WAY DOWN (SINGLE EDIT)
15. BOY, I REALLY TIED ONE ON
16. MAGIC’S IN THE AIR
17. I HAVEN’T GOT ANYTHING BETTER TO DO