Labelle – Nightbirds (1974)

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LaBelle – Nightbirds
Released 1974
Epic (KE 33075)

1. “Lady Marmalade” (Bob Crewe, Kenny Nolan) – 3:56
2. “Somebody Somewhere” (Nona Hendryx) – 3:25
3. “Are You Lonely?” (Nona Hendryx) – 3:12
4. “It Took a Long Time” (Raymond Bloodworth, L. Brown, Bob Crewe) – 4:03
5. “Don’t Bring Me Down” (Allen Toussaint) – 2:48
6. “What Can I Do for You?” (Patti LaBelle, Hendryx, Sarah Dash, Edward Batts, James R. Budd Ellison) – 4:02
7. “Nightbird” (Hendryx) – 3:09
8. “Space Children” (Hendryx) – 3:02
9. “All Girl Band” (Allen Toussaint) – 3:50
10. “You Turn Me On” (Hendryx) – 4:37

Featuring – Meters, The
Guitar – Rev Batts, Leo Nocentelli
Organ – Arthur Neville*
Bass – George Porter, Jr.
Piano – Bud Ellison* (tracks: 4, 5, 9)
Producer [Executive] – Vicki WickhamProducer, Arranged By, Keyboards, Percussion, Guitar – Allen Toussaint
Alto & soprano saxophone,clarinet – Earl Turbinton
Alto axophone – Clarence Ford
Baritone, saxophone – Carl Blonin
Tenor saxophone, Flute – Alvin Thomas , Lon Price
Trombone – Lester Caliste
Trumpet – Clyde Kerr Jr. , Steve Howard

Recorded At Sea-Saint Studios, New Orleans

Engineer – Ken Laxton
Produced by Allen Toussaint

I think everyone on the planet knows the song “Lady Marmalade” unless they’ve been living under the proverbial rock. Actually I think even them, along with some basement dwellers, probably know this song and can even sing all the words for you. But much lesser known is the album that it came off. The first time I put this on my turntable, I didn’t bother to look at the credits, but by the second or third song I was thinking — damn the arrangements on this sure do sound like Allen Toussaint… And lo and behold, they are! In fact it is a strike against my musical credibility that I did not already know that he produced one of the biggest #1 funk / soul / proto-disco hits of the first half of the 1970s, and Labelle’s biggest album. His trademark keyboard and piano work is all over this album, as is his characteristically New Orleans brass sensibility. Hell, this album even has The Meters on it! By `74, Toussaint was producing them along with Dr.John, and this record has plenty of sweaty southern soul stank on it. The first six cuts on this are all fantastic, with a heavy vibe of Stax and Muscle Shoals but filtered through Mr. Toussaint’s bayou universe. A particular favorite of mine is the mellow Philadelphia soul of “It Took a Long Time,” just gorgeous, bittersweetly tender soul about finally meeting the “right” person. The tune makes great use of one of Labelle’s biggest strengths – the backing vocal harmonies of Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash singing a different set of complementary lyrics. Although it is the least funky of the bunch, it’s possible this song is my favorite track here – for me, it’s a perfect amalgamation of soul and pop music where everything about it works.

The album does have a few clunkers on it, but even those are enjoyable due to the great vocal and production work. Basically the first side of the original LP is just much stronger than the second half, where the songwriting just doesn’t quite make the cut. Opening up with the very strong “What Can I Do For You?”, which was their other hit tune off this record, the record kind of loses steam after that. Nona Hendryx is more than deserving of my respect and admiration but I’m just not too crazy about the title cut ‘Nightbirds’, penned by her, which incidentally seems to have stolen some of its melody from Neil Young’s “Old Man.” The tune “Space Children” is just plain silly, but I can’t help but like it in spite of myself mostly due to the way Patti sings “spaaaay-e-ahyy-e-ace childreh-heh-hehn” in a couple places. The lyrics are pretty disposable – they might be a critique of drug use, or of hippies, which would ordinarily score some points with me, but they just aren’t very good. But not as bad as Toussaint’s “All Girl Band”, which contains completely ridiculous lines like, “And there was Mary / Quit her job at they dairy / Took up the name Blackberry”…. Is this so bad it’s good? No, it’s just bad. Toussaint had some great work under his own name but he was a much better producer-arranger-musician than he was a songwriter (his ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ fares better but still suffers from dumb lyrics and a cheesy hook). But not everybody can “do it all” — Donny Hathaway he is not…

The closing cut, “You Turn Me On,” is a slow soul burner that grows increasingly erotic as it goes on (“I cum like the pouring rain / Each time you call my name / It’s good what you’re doin’, what you’re doin’…”). This song is really, really good and essentially makes up for the mediocrity of the two (or three) songs in front of it. I don’t believe this blog features too many records than went Platinum. Even with its flaws, this one deserves the kudos.

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Labelle – Nightbirds (1974) in 320kbs em pee twee

Labelle – Nightbirds (1974)in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO

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6 Comments

  1. Password – senha:

    vibes

  2. Man, I love Nona Hendryx…thanks a lot for this.

  3. "What Can I Do for You?" was played every Saturday night by Larry Levan @ the Paradise Garage. Don't forget Eddie Kendrix or the Tramps.
    I've been enjoying – Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band lately.

  4. m loves you

  5. plese play wAT CAN I DO FORYOU

  6. links vencidos

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