Doomed R&B singer's last great recordings

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Esther Phillips – The Kudu Years 1971-1977

Phillips (1935-1984) first tasted chart stardom in the early ’50s as Little Esther, before spending the ’60s battling heroin addiction. Signing to Kudu in 1971, Esther then made the best music of her career. Kudu surrounded her with fine musicians and material and Phillips’ taut, clipped voice conveys intense emotion like few others. “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” (addiction), “From A Whisper To A Scream” (despair) and the best ever handling of “Use Me” (sex) are all here. Not every interpretation works, but when Esther engages with a song, the results are unforgettable.