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Esther's career was somewhat up-and-down. She first tasted success at the start of the fifties but then a lot of things went wrong. Esther got another chance when she was rediscovered in the early sixties. I enjoy her later music and have reviewed some of it, but this compilation focuses on her early fifties music. The music here, presented in chronological order, covers the period up to 1952. Although she made further recordings throughout the fifties, they didn't make much impact.

Whereas her sixties music occasionally crossed over into the mainstream pop charts, Esther's earlier music was more solidly R+B with no pretensions to be anything else. This was not only reflected in the actual music but in the selection of material. You won't find covers of familiar pop songs in this set, although the final two tracks here are Leiber-Stoller compositions. Maybe they offer the first hint of changes to come later in her career.

All eight of Esther's early R+B hits are included here, including three number ones (Double crossing blues, Mistrustin` blues, Cupid`s boogie) and five top ten hits (Misery, Deceivin` blues, Wedding boogie, Far away Christmas blues, Ring-a-ding doo). The first fourteen of the tracks here, including seven of the hits, were recorded for Savoy Records. The rot began to set in when she switched to Federal Records, but the eleven tracks from that period included here still sound good although only one of them became a hit.

This is a great collection of Esther`s early music, which makes a striking contrast with her later music.
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