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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VA – Nigerian Disco Funk Special: The Sound of the Underground Lagos Dancefloor 1974-79 (2008)

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While not as compelling as the 2-disc “Nigeria Special” collection, this is a righteous set of songs in its own right. There are actually some weaker cuts on this one, especially for those whose tastes run like Clint Striker who said “I’m not really into all that wah-wah guitar stuff.” Maybe the problem is that the collection kicks off with its strongest cut, “Take Your Soul” (1976) from The Sahara All Stars of Jos.” The momentum of the rest of the album just never quite reaches those heights again. Tracks like the seriously-flanged “Lagos City” (1976) from Asiko Rock Group, and the closer, Afro-beatish “Love Affair” (1976) by SJOB Movement, keep the stew simmering. “Greetings” (1978) from Joni Hastruup — which manages to be both the most melodic cut here and also one of the funkiest, with some tight riffing on sax, flute, and Rhodes that match Joni’s stident voice. — keep it interesting in between some of the more monochromatic jams here. It’s probably my favorite track on this compilation. The sound quality varies between the tracks here, no doubt due to most if not all of these tracks being sourced from vinyl, but if you are seeking stuff like this out then you probably won’t care much about that. If this doesn’t quite reach the same level as Soundway’s other Nigerian compilations, its only because they set such a high benchmark with them.

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From CD Universe
Nigerian music is known for its polyglot character, a fact that is exemplified by its native juju and highlife–a perfect storm of indigenous music traditions bolstered by Western technology. Lesser-known are Nigerian attempts to adopt Western trends wholesale, as with the exquisitely rare disco and funk groups compiled for NIGERIA DISCO FUNK SPECIAL: THE SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUND LAGOS DANCEFLOOR 1974-1979. Taking obvious cues from stateside horn-driven funk ensembles like B.T. Express, Ohio Players and the J.B.’s, the propulsive dancefloor beats are punctuated by horn blasts and the scratchy, repetitive insistence of rhythm guitars–a sound with distinctive echoes of the ringing melodicism of highlife guitar sections. Highlights on this funky slice of Afro-disco include: Asikos’s “Lagos City,” an energetic blast of African brass, and Dr. Adolf Ahanotu’s “Ijere,” a slick, overdriven funk number done in a distinctly Nigerian style.

Nigerian musicians adopt ’70s funk and disco in this collection of rarities.Uncut (p.103) – 4 stars out of 5 — “The Afrobeat thunder is still strong on NIGERIA DISCO FUNK SPECIAL….T-Fire could be the Lagos branch of Clinton’s P-Funk family.”

Track Listing

1. Take Your Soul – The Sahara All Stars
2. Will of the People – T-Fire
3. Lagos City – Asiko Rock Group
4. Greetings – Johnny Haastrup
5. You’ve Gotta Help Yourself – The Groovies/Bongos Ikwue
6. Some More – Jay U Experience
7. Mota Ginya – Voices of Darkness
8. Ijere – Dr. Adolf Aonotu
9. Love Affair – S-Job Movement

 in 320kbs

 in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO FORMAT

Eddie Kendricks – The Hit Man (1975) 320kbs & FLAC vinyl rip

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Eddie Kendricks has a magic wand, that moves at his command, and he wants to turn you on. Eddie Kendricks just wants to make you happy. He wants to take your frown and turn it upside down. Eddie Kendricks wants you not to be afraid to pleasure yourself. He wants you to get the cream off the top. He wants to hear your body talk. I think you see where Eddie Kendricks is coming from. He wants you to skip work today, and put on this record, and stay home with your lady or your man.

Until recently the last time I had listened to this album in its entirety was a little over six months ago, right before All Hallow´s Eve. And when that star-crossed day came around, I threw a huge party in an abandoned house, quite an event for the rather sleepy and dull city I was living in. The party was somewhat notorious, lasting until dawn. Talk of the town even. But nothing and nobody caught fire, except on the dance floor, and I think the person who fell down the stairs ended up okay.

I was stone cold sober all night but the evening is still a blur. Magick was afoot. We had a few DJs and a bunch of gear crammed into this empty space with paint all over the walls, off from the side room that had the full ceremonial workings for a black mass waiting to happen, and a skull-baby in a coffin-cradle resting in the bathroom. I didn’t get around to taking my turn at the tables until around 1 am.

I played the track “Happy.” It is one of the very distinct memories I have of the evening. The song just sends positive vibrations into the air of any space it is played, making all recipients lucky enough to be present… happy. Just damn happy. The dance floor moved to its mellow groove and I saw enough smiles to believe ever word Eddie whispered in my ear. The last time I fell in love (and this could be the last time, I don’t know) was because of that song, although I wouldn’t know that until later. The woman in question was there at that party, disguised as a burly man, and so officially meeting her didn’t quite count. But that was the beginning. And it was all Eddie Kendrick’s fault. His voice and vibe have the power to make total strangers fall in love from across a crowded room, and not even learn about it until a month or two later. He’s that good.

Damn you Eddie Kendricks.

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Bass – James Jamerson
Congas – Eddie “Bongo” Brown
Drums – Earl Palmer , Ed Green* , Harvey Mason , James Gadson
Guitar – Jay Graydon , John McGhee* , Melvin “Wah-Wah” Ragin* , Ray Parker*
Keyboards – Harold Johnson , Leonard Caston
Percussion – Bobbye Hall , Gary Coleman , Gene Estes
Producer – Brian Holland (tracks: A3) , Frank Wilson (tracks: All except A3) , Leonard Caston (tracks: All except A3)

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Tracklisting:
A1 If Anyone Can (3:22)
Written-By – Kathy Wakefield , Leonard Caston

A2 Happy (5:13)
Written-By – Kathy Wakefield , Leonard Caston

A3 Get The Cream Off The Top (3:04)
Written-By – Brian Holland , Eddie Holland*

A4 Body Talk (6:41)
Written-By – Frank Wilson , Kathy Wakefield

B1 Fortune Teller (3:32)
Written-By – Barrett Strong

B2 Skippin’ Work Today (4:35)
Written-By – J. Christopher Fox

B3 You Loved Me Then (2:30)
Written-By – Kathy Wakefield , Leonard Caston

B4 I’ve Got To Be (7:48)
Written-By – Kathy Wakefield , Leonard Caston

Not a bad song on this one. Except for Fortune Teller. That song is bad. But the rest of it is fantastic. The songwriters, especially Kathy Wakefield and Leonard Caston, really manage to provide a cohesive set of material that makes you forget that Eddie didn’t write anything on the record, it all suits his style so well. Filled with the tight hooks, arrangements, and musicianship you would only expect from Eddie in 1975, when he was really on a roll and could do no wrong.

mmmm links
Eddie Kendricks – The Hit Man (1975) 320kbs

Eddie Kendricks – The Hit Man (1975) FLAC

Caroline Crawford – Nice and Soulful (1979) 320 kbs


Caroline Crawford – Nice And Soulful (1979)

www.dustygroove.com
A stunning set of soul tunes from the lovely Caroline Crawford — produced by Bohannon, and some of his best work from the time! Caroline’s got a great style that moves past other club singers of the time — much more soulful and sophisticated than simple disco diva styles, drenched in a deeper soul sound that grounds the album nicely in a strong tradition of 70s soul. The production is tight, but unobtrusive — a bit like some of the best work that Barry White did with singers of a similar style — and the whole album sparkles with a freshness that will make you say “Hey, why I have I been missing this one all these years?” Titles include “The Strut”, “I’ll Be Here For You”, “Havin Fun”, “Facts Of Life”, and “Love Me Or Leave Me Alone”.

Tracks
1. I’ll Be Here For You
2. Can’t Hold Me Back
3. Love Me Or Leave Me Alone
4. The Strut
5. The Facts Of Life
6. Havin’fun