Monday, 23 February 2009

Labelle

What a year of comebacks! As far as Labelle are concerned it's as if they have never been away. Among a raft of talents contributing to this set we have the legendary Gamble & Huff and rocker Lenny Kravitz. I expect, like me, that you expect Gamble & Huff's work to be far better that Lenny Kravitz don't you? I did, and I was proved wrong. His productions are far more soulful and more in tradition with what these fine Ladies were doing back in the early 70s, whereas bar the odd exception our Philly legends seem to have abandoned their Philly roots for a rockier stance – which is OK as this is a Labelle project. Pity, though. Taking the CD track by track please make your own mind up, but for me the rockier whipper-snapper trumps the established on this set, and I feel that you will agree. “Candlelight” has proved popular on Solar and Jazz FM and it's not hard to hear why. An irresistible 70s groove but still totally today. Like the Christmas song they're simply doin' it in the new old fashioned way!
“Superlover” is fantastic; musically this song falls stylistically between Marvin Gaye's “Let's Get It On” and the Commodores' “Easy”. Though it may fall in-between it still very much hits the mark and I consider it a really great song. The third Kravitz effort is the horn-drenched, hi-hat riding 70s groove, “System”. This is an amazing track and the bluesy guitar a la Johnny Guitar Watson style is just perfect for this song. Gamble & Huff deliver the rock-guitar “The Truth Shall Set You Free” and “How Long” and the guitar is almost Led Zeppelin in places! I happen to like this, but if you are expecting sweet string-filled lush Philly soul then forget it. Kenny Gamble comes close on “Without You In My Life” using some haunting vocal harmonies, and the piano-led song also features horns orchestrated by fellow legend, Dexter Wansel. My trump Gamble & Huff moment is the chugging and sturdy “Tears For The World”; more traditional is this but I get the feeling that the guys have started losing their own unique style which is a pity. As a whole, it's a welcome release and contains more than enough surprises to warrant a purchase.

Barry Towler