The Essential Syreeta

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The reissue labels were never very kind to Syreeta, resulting in the sad fact that compilations remain the best (if not the only) way to hear what made her recordings so special. The Essential Syreeta is the best of a tiny lot, with a passable selection of material from her '70s and '80s records. For some unknown reason, the compilers virtually ignored her fine 1972 debut; only two songs are included, one of them (fortunately) her sweet, grooving remake of Stevie Wonder's "I Love Every Little Thing About You" (first heard earlier that year on Stevie's Music of My Mind). The collection does a much better job with 1974's Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta, presenting her best songs ("Spinnin' and Spinnin'" and "Your Kiss Is Sweet," both written with Wonder) as well as three other solid tracks. Most of the rest comes from the period 1977 to 1981, when she recorded some good work -- like the R&B hits "Harmour Love" and "Let's Make a Deal" -- but never approached her early-'70s heyday. The final blow is the absence of "With You I'm Born Again," her fine hit duet with Billy Preston from 1981. Yes, it's recommended, but that's only until a real compilation comes along.

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