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Archive for the ‘Labelle’ Category

Got To Be Real: SoulMusic Reissues Cheryl Lynn, Labelle and Johnnie Taylor

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LabelleWith a trio of recent releases from Labelle, Cheryl Lynn and Johnnie Taylor, Cherry Red’s SoulMusic Records imprint turns its attention once again to bona fide R&B royalty.

When Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles transformed into Labelle, the change was more than merely cosmetic.  The quartet was reduced to a threesome when Cindy Birdsong headed to Hitsville USA to replace Florence Ballard in The Supremes.  Moreover, under the direction of British manager, producer and songwriter Vicki Wickham, the girls ditched their traditional repertoire to pursue a gutsy new direction.  Their first album as Labelle, a 1971 self-titled effort for Warner Bros., had songs written by all three members – Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx – as well as Carole King, Laura Nyro and The Rolling Stones.  1972’s Moonshadow saw Hendryx’s songwriting talent blossom alongside compositions from Dash, Pete Townshend (a searing cover of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”) and Cat Stevens (the title track).  Post-Moonshadow, Wickham and Labelle decamped for RCA.  SoulMusic has just reissued Labelle’s first and only RCA album, 1973’s Pressure Cookin’.

Nona Hendryx continued to shine on seven of the album’s nine tracks, and she was particularly concerned with social issues of the day. In A. Scott Galloway’s fine essay which accompanies this reissue, Hendryx relates, “I was inspired by artists…like Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Stephen Stills and Joni Mitchell.  There was so much racism, sexism, drugs…there needed to be a revolution of the mind.”  Hendryx and Labelle provided one with the scorching title song, and even the album’s cover material reflected that raised consciousness.  A medley melded Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” with Gil Scott-Heron’s spoken-word “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” with all three women taking raps. Hendryx found room for the personal, too.  “(Can I Speak to You Before You Go to) Hollywood” took aim at the people who might later have been deemed poseurs: “There were many people we knew who went from being new to major stars, i.e. divas, and things went to their heads…These were the same people that at one time you’d shared dressing rooms and chicken legs with on the chitlin circuit!”  (Some have suggested Cindy Birdsong was a possible inspiration for the song.)  On “Mr. Music Man,” Hendryx addressed the rapidly-changing musical climate, specifically the marginalization of certain artists from Top 40 radio.  (The more things change…!)  The funky “Goin’ on a Holiday” was co-produced by Wickham and an uncredited Stevie Wonder, and Wonder also wrote “Open Up Your Heart” for Labelle.

After the jump: more on Pressure Cookin’, plus Cheryl Lynn and Johnnie Taylor! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 17, 2014 at 10:44

Action, Action, Action! Real Gone’s April Release Schedule Announced

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Keith Allison

Second Disc HQ may be surrounded by layers of detestable snow, but a new release schedule from Real Gone Music is as good as any sunshine! (Plus, these titles are due in April, by which everything will have melted…WE HOPE.)

You’ve already read about two of the label’s new April releases courtesy of Joe’s post about Doris Day earlier today, but that’s not all they’re offering. A complete singles collection by Patti LaBelle and The Bluebells – featuring the three future members of LaBelle with future Supremes member Cindy Birdsong – is forthcoming, as are chronicles of The Ohio Express on Cameo Records, Vicki Lawrence (“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”) on Bell, and a tempting reissue of Eddie Kendricks’ 1981 final solo LP, his only for Atlantic Records.

But we have to confess we’re a little excited about In Action: The Complete Columbia Sides and More, a new collection devoted to Keith Allison, an underrated rock legend who sat in with The Monkees on some of their best albums, and whose Columbia works were produced by Gary Usher, featuring songs written by Boyce & Hart (the iconic theme to TV series Where the Action Is), Neil Diamond and Mark Lindsay, who’d later recruit him into Paul Revere & The Raiders. In addition to being an airtight, rarity-packed set, we once again can reveal a Real Gone Music release has liner notes penned by our own Joe Marchese, featuring excerpts from a new interview with Keith himself!

So what are you waiting for? Full specs on all titles, including Jacksonville band Cowboy (a favorite of Duane Allman’s) and another Grateful Dead Dick’s Picks title, are after the jump, and all of them are released on April 1 (no foolin’!).

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People All Over the World! A New “Soul Train” Comp Rolls Your Way

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For most of its 35-year run, there was no better outlet for soul music on television than Soul Train. Featuring a diverse palette of R&B artists and the commanding presence of creator/producer/host Don Cornelius, Soul Train has become an institution, the longest-running, nationally syndicated show in American history – albeit one that modern audiences would be slow to appreciate, were it not for the efforts of Time-Life Entertainment in releasing several official DVDs of content from the shows back in 2009.

Now, Time-Life follows up those discs with a special compilation, The Best of Soul Train Live, in stores tomorrow. While most of the performances on the program were lip-synched to the original tracks, a few here and there were not. And a dozen such performances will be captured on this DVD. Most of them stem from the show’s first four seasons, although there is a legendary 1979 duet between Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson on his “Ooo, Baby Baby” and a medley of hits from Stevie Wonder performed in 1991.

Hit the jump for full track details and an Amazon link, and remember – as always, we wish you love, peace…and soul! Read the rest of this entry »

A Double Dose of Soul

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Two newly-announced catalogue titles bring some rare tracks by R&B and soul legends to CD for the first time – and both have a bit of a Motown collection.

First up is Reel Music’s CD debut of Pressure Cookin’, the only LP cut by Labelle for RCA Records. Recorded a year before “Lady Marmalade” shot the group to success, this record features some intriguing highlights, including a medley of Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” and Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” a tune (“Open Up Your Heart”) written by Stevie Wonder and a host of intriguing, Nona Hendryx-penned cuts like “Goin’ on a Holiday” and “(Can I Speak Before You Go to) Hollywoood,” an autobiographical tale of losing touch with other musicians on the road. There’s no bonus cuts, but new liner notes and a fresh remastering (approved by Hendryx and band manager Vicki Wickham) – plus the fact that this album has never been on CD before – should make this a worthy buy.

 Hip-o Select has geared up another rare LP for its first CD release. I Am My Brother’s Keeper is the first and only record cut by Jimmy and David Ruffin. David was, of course, the voice behind some of The Temptations’ greatest hits (“My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” being but two) and Jimmy was the younger brother who’d had a big hit of his own, the delightfully mournful “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.” I Am My Brother’s Keeper, featuring covers of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and a hit rendition of “Stand by Me,” makes its CD debut with two unreleased tracks from the Motown vault and new artwork and liner notes.

The Ruffin brothers’ effort is a limited edition of 7,000 copies while the Labelle disc is unlimited. Pre-order them here and here and check the track lists after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 18, 2010 at 01:11