Mojo (Publisher) - p.1314 stars out of 5
-- "She was patently no one-trick pony and her stylistic versatility is evidenced by the varied collection of blues, jazz and pop covers..."
This 25-track British release is the most comprehensive anthology of Fontella Bass' Chess work ever assembled. Very Best of Fontella Bass includes the entirety of her 1966 The New Look LP, as well as ten tracks from singles and three duets with Bobby McClure. If you value quantity as much as quality, it's certainly a superior buy to the shorter 16-track Rescued: The Best of Fontella Bass compilation that came out on Chess/MCA in 1992, including all but two tracks from that collection. While Bass is a fine, commanding soul vocalist, however, you don't actually lose out on much if you already have that 1992 best-of, since most of the added tracks are covers of '60s soul hits (… la "Our Day Will Come," "Gee Whiz," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'") and pop standards from The New Look album. These are competently sung, but sound like LP filler, designed (as so many albums of the time were) to showcase the versatility of the artist. Nonetheless, some of the surplus items are worth hearing, particularly her bluesy reading of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's "I'm a Woman," the Motown soundalike "Lucky in Love," and the Bass-McClure duet "You'll Miss Me (When I'm Gone)," though "Safe and Sound" is a transparent attempt to replicate "Rescue Me." It's still a good anthology of a good soul vocalist who had more to offer than her one big hit, though the shorter 1992 best-of is a more consistent listen. ~ Richie Unterberger