Here's Esther...Are You Ready/Good Black Is Hard to Crack

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
With few exceptions, greats who established themselves during soul's golden era were not well served by the disco era, when arrangements and material often poorly suited their abilities. Such was the case with the final two albums by Esther Phillips, Here's Esther...Are You Ready (1979) and Good Black Is Hard to Crack (1981), here combined onto one CD with historical liner notes. As producer Harvey Mason recalls in those notes, he and Phillips had "a mandate from Mercury to mostly do uptempo material" for Here's Esther...Are You Ready, resulting in an album dominated by disco dance tunes as that genre neared the end of its peak popularity. Phillips is still in fine ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
With few exceptions, greats who established themselves during soul's golden era were not well served by the disco era, when arrangements and material often poorly suited their abilities. Such was the case with the final two albums by Esther Phillips, Here's Esther...Are You Ready (1979) and Good Black Is Hard to Crack (1981), here combined onto one CD with historical liner notes. As producer Harvey Mason recalls in those notes, he and Phillips had "a mandate from Mercury to mostly do uptempo material" for Here's Esther...Are You Ready, resulting in an album dominated by disco dance tunes as that genre neared the end of its peak popularity. Phillips is still in fine voice, and not averse to injecting the material with a sly playfulness it doesn't always deserve, or which doesn't even always fit its mood. Covers of "Philadelphia Freedom" and "Our Day Will Come" were never going to challenge or redefine the originals, and while a couple ballads made for something a little more up her alley, they weren't strong enough to make a mark. Notable jazz musician Benny Golson took the production reins for Good Black Is Hard to Crack, and while it's not too much of a departure from the previous album, the settings are generally looser and a little more sympathetic. The songs aren't great, but Phillips sounds more at ease with at least some of them, and hits an acceptably engaging soul-jazz groove on "City Lights." There are still some formulaic disco tunes, though, and none of the tracks on this or its predecessor stand among Phillips' finer work, though she retained enough vocal skill to go out with some dignity.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/25/2011
  • Label: Soulmusic.com
  • EAN: 5013929070738
  • Catalog Number: 2907073

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Esther Phillips Primary Artist
Hank Crawford Alto Saxophone
Bobby Bryant Trumpet
George Bohannon Trombone
Oscar Brashear Trumpet
Alexandra Brown Background Vocals
Garnett Brown Trombone
Sam Dees Vocals
Roy Galloway Background Vocals
Benny Golson Moog Synthesizer, Oberheim Obxa
Thurman Green Trombone
Obie Jessie Background Vocals
Steve Kenoly Electric Bass
Kenny Mason Background Vocals
Marti McCall Background Vocals
Greg Poree Guitar
Wilton Rabb Guitar
Maurice Spears Trombone
Stephanie Spruill Background Vocals
Melvin Webb Bongos, Drums
Julia Tillman Background Vocals
Harvey Mason Jr. Background Vocals
Eric Daniels fender rhodes
Eugene 'Snooky' Young Trumpet
Gemi Taylor Guitar
Maxine Willard Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Willie Nelson Composer
Elton John Composer
Bill Meyers Arranger
Esther Phillips Executive Producer
Bill LaBounty Composer
Eugene Record Composer
Michael Zager Composer
Alvin Fields Composer
David Cameron Composer
David Castell Engineer
Cissy Houston Composer
Sam Dees Composer, Vocal Arrangements
Geoff Farr Programming
Mort Garson Composer
Benny Golson Producer, Vocal Arrangements, Horn Arrangements, rhythm arrangement, Synthesizer Arrangements
Berry Gordy Jr. Composer
Bobby Hart Composer
Bob Hilliard Composer
Jim Lang Composer
Kenny Mason Arranger
Fonce Mizell Composer
Freddie Perren Composer
Jerry Peters Composer
Deke Richards Composer
Jay Senter Composer
Gerald Sims Composer
Bernie Taupin Composer
Marvin Yancy Composer
Benjamin F. Wright Arranger
David Nathan Liner Notes
Lynn Mack Composer
Mike Doud Art Direction
Doug Frank Composer
Stan Watts Cover Illustration
Harvey Mason Jr. Arranger, Producer
James McClelland Composer
Barry Richards Composer
Red Rowe Composer
Jonah Ellis Composer
Joel Webster Composer
Alan Wilson Mastering
William Saunders Composer
Carl Davis Composer
James Burgess Composer
Eunice Burgess Composer
Bernie Gruman Mastering
Mabelle John Composer
Charles C. Sims Jr. Arranger
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