Although Sugar Pie DeSanto has had a long career, most would agree that her peak as a recording artist was with Chess Records in the 1960s. All of the tracks issued on her Chess singles are on this CD, including a 1966 U.K. 45 ("There's Gonna Be Trouble") not issued in the U.S., as well as a previously unreleased bonus cut, the quite fine and tough "Witch for a Night." Nine of these cuts that appeared on 1960s singles, in fact, never appeared on an album anywhere prior to this CD. While not many of these sides made much chart noise, over these years DeSanto proved herself one of the finer, and certainly one of the grittiest, woman singers straddling the lines between bluesy R&B and contemporary soul. She's most known for the raunchier, sassier, bluesiest side of her repertoire, and there are, as expected, plenty such examples on this CD, including her moderate hit duet with Etta James ("In the Basement") and her witty answer record to Tommy Tucker's "Hi Heel Sneakers" ("Slip-in Mules [No High Heel Sneakers]"). Those who know DeSanto mostly as a soul-blues artist, though, might be surprised -- and usually pleasantly so -- to hear her do some quality material here that's more in the mainstream early- to mid-'60s soul style. Some songs even approach the fringe of the girl group and Motown sound, and occasionally she even adeptly handles ballads, like "Ask Me" (more famous in its hit version by Maxine Brown) and the more memorable 1965 recording "Never Love a Stranger." Not every song here is too distinctive, but the batting average is pretty high. Considering how heavily the Chess catalog has been mined in the CD era, it's odd that it took so long for such a comprehensive DeSanto collection to appear, but Ace has done its typical fine job with the packaging, including detailed historical liner notes.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger