Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Labelle gave us the funky truth with this glammed out disco marmalade.  The group had formed when rival girlgroups the Ordettes from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania joined forces with the Del-Capris from nearby Trenton, New Jersey.   "Patsy" Holt and Sundray Tucker from the Ordettes convinced Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash from the Del-Capris to become Ordettes and the new ensemble became a sensation.  The ten year old Tucker's grades were suffering so she left to be replaced by college student Cindy Birdsong.  The other girls were still in their early teens.  

As The Bluebelles, they had a top twenty hit with "I Sold My Heart To The Junkman" in 1962.  Shortly thereafter, Holt was given her stage name LaBelle by Newtown Records president Harold Robinson to avoid a lawsuit from another label over the name of the group and they became Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles.  The quartet had a couple of top forty hits ("Down the Aisle (The Wedding Song)" and "You'll Never Walk Alone") before Birdsong left in 1967 to join The Supremes.  The remaining trio moved to London and Warner Bros. Records with new manager Vicki Wickham, who advised them to reinvent themselves as Labelle,  Their groundbreaking fusion of rock and soul struggled to find success over several albums:   'Labelle' and 'Moon Shadow'  on Warner Bros.;  'Gonna Take a Miracle'  on Columbia with Laura Nyro;  and 'Pressure Cookin'' on RCA.  After opening for the Rolling Stones, they switched to CBS Records subsidiary Epic and went to New Orleans to record with producer Allen Toussaint at Sea-Saint Studios.  

Recorded in two weeks, 'Nightbirds' features Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash on lead and backing vocals;   Allen Toussaint on keyboards, percussion, and guitar;   Art Neville on organ;   George Porter, Jr. and Walter Payton on bass;   Leo Nocentelli and  Rev Batts on guitar;   Smokey Johnson and Herman Ernest III on drums;   Bud Ellison on piano;   Earl Turbinton on alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, and clarinet;   Alvin Thomas and Lon Price on tenor saxophone and flute;   Clyde Kerr Jr. and Steve Howard on trumpet;   Lester Caliste on trombone;   Carl Blonin on baritone saxophone;   and Clarence Ford on alto saxophone.   'Nightbirds'  went to number seven on the US album chart and four on the US R&B album chart, sold over a million copies, and helped to launch the disco era.  



"Lady Marmalade" became a number one smash hit that has gone on to be a chart topper for others as well. 
"Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?"

"What Can I Do For You?"
"Give me the truth or nothing at all!"

full album:


All songs written and composed by Nona Hendryx, except where noted. 

Side one
1. "Lady Marmalade" (Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan) 3:56
2. "Somebody Somewhere"   3:25
3. "Are You Lonely?"   3:12
4. "It Took a Long Time" (Raymond Bloodworth, L. Russell Brown and Bob Crewe) 4:03
5. "Don't Bring Me Down" (Allen Toussaint) 2:48
Side two
6. "What Can I Do for You?" (Edward Batts and James Budd Ellison) 4:02
7. "Nightbird"   3:09
8. "Space Children"   3:02
9. "All Girl Band" (Allen Toussaint) 3:50
10. "You Turn Me On"   4:37

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